The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. through its One To Tree (RAFI OTT) program, expands their native tree-growing activities to Luzon, specifically in Batangas.
RAFI OTT in partnership with the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD), launched their pilot implementation of tree-growing activities in Batangas, engaging three People’s Organizations (POs) namely: Samahan ng mga Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of Brgy. Lucban, Balayan, Calan Farmers Association of Barangay Calan, Balayan and Samahan ng mga Magsasaka at Kababaihan of Brgy. Dao, Tuy, Batangas. This tree growing initiative was also made possible with the support and collaboration with the ICTSI Foundation.
“Today marks a significant milestone for the RAFI OTT Program. We are grateful that our mission has brought us to Batangas as part of our expansion plan in Luzon. RAFI OTT promotes partnerships and collaboration with the community partners and other stakeholders in implementing native tree growing initiatives to improve biodiversity and empower farmers and partner communities,” Anthony Dignadice, Executive Director of RAFI OTT expressed.
“This is a new learning experience to engage in a native tree growing initiative not just for CARRD but for the farmers, considering that they have only been into sugarcane farming. Despite expecting a lot of challenges, we wholeheartedly accept this support to provide the farmers and their organizations with more opportunities to earn more from the lands awarded through the government’s agrarian reform program while also helping to mitigate the negative effects of climate change,” said Marie Joy Demaluan, CARRD Executive Director in her speech at the launch.
After a series of coordination meetings and orientations with officials from Brgys. Lucban and Calan in Balayan, Batangas and Barangay Dao in Tuy, Batangas, over 50 farmers have committed to participate in seedling production, site preparation, planting, monitoring and maintenance activities for native tree growing. Through cooperation and partnership with POs and farmers, this project aims to initially plant 45,000 seedlings in vacant, rolling and idle areas in sugarcane farms to serve as boundary and buffer crops.
Melecio Landicho, President of Calan Farmers Association, expressed his excitement and happiness to be selected as one of the partners for this meaningful native tree-growing project. He is especially enthusiastic to see the active participation and support that his members have shown to successfully implement RAFI OTT’s program in their community.
Meanwhile, Mario Aplon, President of Samahan ng mga Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries ng Brgy. Lucban appreciates the collective efforts of the partners in ensuring the project’s success. “It is important to note that our engagement appears to be “One to Tree (THREE)” because it is a collaboration between RAFI, CARRD, and our people’s organizations that will work together as ONE to achieve our mission for our farmers, communities and environment,” Aplon shares.
With its vision to empower farmers and communities and expand its reach in advocating for native tree growing, RAFI OTT aims to help increase the country’s forest cover, enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, and support bio-sequestration to help mitigate the impact of climate change in the Philippines.
“Naging mahirap man sa una na magkumbinse ng aming mga kasama na lumahok sa gawaing ito dahil sa mga agam-agam ngunit dahil sa maayos na pagpapaliwanag ng magandang layunin ng programa para sa aming magsasaka at maayos na koordinasyon na ginawa ng RAFI at CARRD, nandito na kami ngayon at masayang nakikilahok sa Project Kick-off para maumpisahan ang pagtatanim ng native na puno sa aming barangay. This is a new beginning to change our lives as farmers,” shared Anna De Castro, Secretary of Samahan ng Magsasaka at Kababaihan.
Believing in the importance of a community-based approach, RAFI OTT works closely with local farmers and community stakeholders, to ensure the survival of the trees and to support the community for their environmental and socio-economic development. Through this, farmers will undergo capacity building activities on seedling production, farm design, site preparation and establishment, monitoring and maintenance.
This partnership and collaboration was made official last August 23, 2022 in Batangas.