Island villagers: 160 ha for fruit trees

By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY -- Villagers of Manila, Tinocawan and Calanaga, all located in the island-town of Rapu-rapu in Albay, have committed to propagate seven varieties of fruit-bearing trees on 160 hectares of land.

William Esplana, special project coordinator of the Biosphere program under the office of Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, said yesterday the fruit tree plantation is a community-driven project jointly implemented by the congressman, Team Albay Youth Organization, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer and barangay council.

The areas were identified by the Provincial Environment Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and most of them are private-owned.

“The planting of fruit trees is an expansion of the barangay forestry program with a total budget amounting to P40M for the entire second district of Albay comprising four towns and the city of Legazpi. It is a broader package of economic redevelopment, health and wellness, the best long-term, most sustainable and low maintenance form of agriculture,” he said.

The project aims to encourage community participation to help improve the economic condition of every household, create livelihood, promote healthy, nutritious food and contribute to the alleviation of poverty in the area, Esplana said.

The participants in the project are entitled to receive P5 per seed planted on their land.

In Manila, Tinocawan and Calanaga, only seven fruit-bearing trees have been identified as appropriate for planting -- blackberry (rubus), kamagong (Diospyros discolo), santol (Sandoricum koetjape), jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), avocado (Persea Americana), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), and cacao (Theobroma cacao), he noted.

Esplana also said some trees were placed strategically around residences to help cool their houses.

“Fruit trees belong to communities where people live and improve health and resiliency. Fruits can be instrumental in bringing the community together, especially at planting and harvest time,” he said.

School and communal gardening is also encouraged, and necessary technical support can be provided to the participants, he said.