The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently opened a 3.7-km access road in Conversion village in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija that will ease in the transportation of products of upland farmers coming from their agroforestry farm and help increase economic productivity, environment official said.
Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of the DENR in Central Luzon, said the P23-million worth access road was funded by JICA as an “agroforestry support facility” in the 10-year Forestland Management Project (FMP) in Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed, which will boost the livelihood of some 350 upland farmers and their families managing about 14,000 hectares of agroforestry and forest plantations.
“Our upland farmers can now easily bring their products like mango, cashew, cacao and coffee to the nearby market in the town using this access road. This will serve as a channel to increase local trade and productivity, since it connects farm areas to market towns,” he explained.
He said transportation cost will be reduced and post-harvest losses of local farmers will also be minimized, since the newly newly-opened access road will ensure easier access to social services such as health and education.
Citing the significance of forging alliance towards community welfare, Moreno thanked the JICA for supporting the project aimed at the development, conservation, protection and sustainable use of forest resources.
For his part, Yo Ebisawa, JICA senior representative, said the access road will help local community and their partner people's organization to fast track the reforestation of some denuded portions of the watershed.
“This project is advantageous to our reforestation efforts in the watershed, since it will reduce the cost and travel time in hauling seedlings in the planting site," he said.
Launched in 2012, FMP is a 10-year reforestation project that aims to rehabilitate the Pantabangan-Caranglan watershed, one of the biggest protected areas in Central Luzon, and to strengthen the forestland management through the implementation of collaborative community-based forest management (CBFM) strategy.
FMP also integrates conservation and development-oriented activities with participation and capacity-building of local communities to rehabilitate degraded forestlands in three critical river basins, including Upper Magat and Cagayan in Region 2, Upper Pampanga in Region 3, and Jalaur in Iloilo.