After the successful first run of a project to help conserve the Davao River watershed, Holcim Philippines has renewed its partnership with an environment group to train an indigenous community in the Marilog uplands on ideal farming techniques to discourage them from timber-poaching.
On Jan. 22, Holcim Davao signed a memorandum of agreement to extend by another year the financial support to the Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc. for the training of 40 more Matigsalug families on Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT). The said technique is designed to put less pressure on the remaining forest ecosystem in Marilog, located about 60 kilometers away from the city proper.
Under the MoA, the beneficiaries will be trained on SALT to cultivate indigenous and fruit trees as well as cash crops such as rice, corn and sweet potatoes to improve their food security and income thus lessening their need to engage in destructive activities such as timber- poaching.
The planting activities are also seen to contribute to water, soil and biodiversity conservation of the Davao River watershed, the largest among the city’s eight watersheds. Participants will cultivate at least 50 hectares in the area that was formerly part of a logging concession.
The project also aims to build on the gains from its first year, which started in 2011 and involved 50 families, by teaching the initial beneficiaries new skills such as agroforestry, organic fertilizer production, crop house development and duck raising.
Holcim Davao Plant Manager Joe Bernal said the plant welcomes the opportunity to support this project as it is consistent with the company’s thrust of empowering communities and sustainable development advocacy.
“The Davao River Watershed is an important resource of the city and we are honored to partner with the Kinaiyahan Foundation to contribute to the watershed’s conservation. What’s even better is that the project has the added benefit of uplifting the Matigsalug community by improving their livelihood opportunities thus making them more self-reliant,” he said.
Kinaiyahan Foundation Executive Director Roberta Cabazares thanked Holcim Philippines for again supporting the project given its positive impact on the community.
“Aside from the families we trained, we found that several more households who did not participate have copied the farming techniques we introduced. The participants also realized that they can get regular income from farming by diversifying their crops and don’t have to turn to timber-poaching. This is a good first step in reaching out to the large Matigsalug community and we are thankful to Holcim Davao for its support,” she said.