AFA with other PAKISAMA partners, provided funds for PAKISAMA to conduct a 3-day National Conference on Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) cum Farmers Advocacy Consultation Tool (FACT), with the theme: “Towards Stronger PAKISAMA Cooperative Agri-Based Enterprises Nationwide in the Coconut, Cereals, Fisheries and Social/Agri-Forestry Sectors.” This was held in Bosoboso, Antipolo City, Philippines, on June 25-27, 2015. The sub-theme sessions on Social/Agri-Forestry brought together forest policy-makers and PAKISAMA’s forest farmer members and leaders of forest farmer producers’ organization, including other stakeholders supportive to forest sectors, specifically small women and men forest farmers.
A representative from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) presented the government’s Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) program which provides a strategic plan of the community on how to manage and benefit from the forest resources on a sustainable basis. Other DENR programs and projects were also discussed, including the multibillion-peso National Greening Program (NGP) which has been criticized for the lack of transparency and consultation with local stakeholders—e.g., in south Sierra Madre, Agta-Remontados were surprised to have ‘NGOs’ unknown to them coming in to plant tree species alien to the local environment, and destructive of the biodiversity of the area, without free prior informed consent (FPIC) from the indigenous people in the area. In many other areas in Central Luzon, local communities watch in disbelief at so-called ‘reforestation projects’ awarded to questionable groups who disappear and then show up again to do ‘reforestation’ after the area they previously ‘reforested’ had been mysteriously burned to the ground.
PAKISAMA’s upland farmers’ organizations identified major issues vis DENR programs as:
- Lack of transparency by DENR and/or some LGUs in implementing social/agriforestry projects, including NGP;
- Lack of participation by local stakeholders in the conceptualization and implementation of local social/agri-forestry projects;
- Most POs/CSOs have difficulty in preparing project proposals and other documentary requirements for social/agri-forestry projects;
- Some projects are not implemented because LGUs do not provide counterpart;
- Some good social/agri-forestry projects are undermined or corrupted by some DENR personnel themselves, in cahoots, in a number of cases with some LGU officials;
- Some mayors control social/agri-forestry projects’ implementation especially on location and beneficiaries.
The upland farmers worked on a sample SMART project proposal for submission to the 2017 BUB cycle entitled: “Mount Bosoboso water shed rehabilitation and protection” in the amount of P15 million which aims to: i) establish nurseries of indigenous trees which will be planted to reforest500 has. of BosoBoso mountains; ii) train at least 50 forest guards to protect the area that will be reforested; and ii) orient the residents living near BosoBoso mountain on how to protect the forest and how to engage in sustainable livelihood activities that do not destroy the forest. The target beneficiaries are 1,000 households (direct) and 30,000 households (indirect).
PAKISAMA’s upland FOs also came up with several recommendations with priority on a comprehensive program for reforestation and capability building – Establishment of nurseries for indigenous trees and seed banks for traditional crops; Reforestation programs; Monitoring of upland areas by forest guards (provided with trainings and financial support); Illegal logging, mining, pag-uuling; Construction or rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads; Creation of alternative livelihood programs and conduct of trainings; Ensure compliance of government and companies with FPIC requirements; Provision of support services (e.g. how to effectively manage the land, how to make it profitable, how to increase land productivity etc.) for agrarian reform beneficiaries and IP communities to protect their land rights; Improve or speed up the processing and awarding of CADT to protect the ancestral domain; Introduction of solar power technology to upland and far flung areas (e.g. solar ramp pump to aid in the irrigation).