Ancestral lands eyed as food production areas

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) will craft a masterplan that will transform ancestral lands into food production areas as part of government’s efforts to lift indigenous people out of poverty.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said President Duterte had directed the DA to develop thousands of hectares of ancestral domains, specifically in Mindanao, into food production areas following a recent dialogue with tribal groups in Davao City.

“The President said the DA should work closely with the National Commission on the Indigenous People and other agencies to transform the vast tribal lands into food production areas. Several lands are left idle and unproductive because of the failure of government to initiate projects in the area,” Piñol said.

“Some of the enterprising tribal groups lease part of their lands to companies but the earnings are not enough to lift the tribal people out of poverty,” he added.

The DA is set to form a team, which will be led by Agriculture Undersecretary for Special Concerns Ranibai Dilangalen, to carry out this initiative.

Piñol said the DA has prepared a similar program, Bantay Kagubatan, which is aimed at helping indigenous people.

“The program calls for the engagement of farming families and tribal people in tree farming with intercrops of cacao, coffee, abaca or black pepper,” he said.

“The participating families will also be provided livelihood projects like raising native pigs and free-range chicken. Interest-free loans shall likewise be given,” Piñol said.

The DA will be meeting with tribal groups in several provinces in the country, starting with Saranggani on Feb. 8.

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