Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) chief Siegfred Flaviano, fresh from his 18-day foreign study tour under the auspices of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), plans to replicate Japan’s reforestation program in South Cotabato.
In an interview, Flaviano narrated the success story of the reforestation program in Kanagawa Prefecture in which Japan calls as the “Forest of the 21st Century” because it addressed not only forest protection but poverty reduction as well.
The PEMO chief said that the program employed the “land lease concept” which benefitted not only the environment but also uplift the economic condition of the individual farmer through sustainable livelihood.
Under said concept, Flaviano stressed that the province in partnership with the private sector could lease forest lands for 5 years from a farmer-beneficiary for an appropriate amount per hectare, and in return, the farmer will plant his leased land variety of high-value and industrial crops and nurture it until it reach harvestable stage.
“The private sector’s role in the partnership is to provide wage to the farmer on a monthly basis until it reach the harvestable period and link his harvested crops to the market,” FLaviano added.
“In this way, the province will be assured that forest lands will be protected and at the same time the farmer is secured of the market for his produce,” Flaviano pointed out.
High-value crop currently in demand are coffee, cacao and rubber and command a high price in the market that makes it as a suitable means of sustainable livelihood for a lowly farmer.
Because of the revolutionary concept, Japan was able to reforest more than 94,000 hectares of forest lands in the said prefecture, Flaviano further added.