Access roads for upland farms completed in Ifugao province

PHILIPPINE STAR/ ANDY ZAPANTA, JR.

THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have completed and turned over new access roads in Banaue, Mayoyao, and Lagawe in Ifugao province to support upland farmers.

“The roads are critical to helping upland farmers transport their agroforestry goods easily, find new markets, and for people to access basic services such as hospital care and schools,” JICA and the DENR said in a statement.

The roads were funded by a P1.8-billion cooperation project targeted at building or rehabilitating agroforestry support facilities under the umbrella of the Forestland Management Project (FMP).

Since 2012, the FMP has rehabilitated over 70,000 hectares of forest land across 24 sub-watersheds in Ifugao, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and Iloilo provinces.

“JICA and DENR have partnered to save critical watershed systems in the Philippines as a move to address climate change and improve the livelihood of farmers and grassroots communities dependent on forest resources,” it added.

According to the DENR, the Philippines has more than 130 watersheds supplying water for irrigation, domestic, and industrial use.

The JICA-DENR partnership also implements conservation efforts at the river basins in Upper Magat and Cagayan, Upper Pampanga, and Jalaur on Panay.

“We join the Philippine government in their self-help efforts to sustainably manage the Philippines’ natural resources for the greatest good of the greatest number of people in the long-term. Conserving vital forest resources such as watersheds is critical to mitigating climate change risks and giving Filipinos opportunities to improve their livelihood through sustainable forestland management,” JICA Philippines Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema said.

Mr. Takema said access roads help upland communities implement sustainable community-based forest management activities, protect and maintain a total of nearly twenty thousand hectares of forest in Ifugao. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson