Catanauan, Quezon – In 2014, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Catanauan, Quezon in partnership with the Samahan ng Malayang Magbubukid ng Brgy. Cambuga (SAMACA) Inc. headed by P.O. President Rodrigo N. Navela established a 52 hectares fruit-bearing plantation with planted cacao seedlings at Sitio Batod, Brgy. Bani, San Narciso, Quezon under the National Greening Program (NGP) pursuant to Executive Order No. 26.

Due to diminishing forest cover, the government sets a reforestation program that will also provide the opportunity to help upland communities with livelihood activities as well as pursue the country’s economic growth while protecting the forest.

Starting in 2018, the farmer-beneficiaries had begun to harvest their fruits of labor. An average of 500 kilograms of cacao seeds was produced in 3 to 4 times harvest annually according to one of the interviewed beneficiaries.

“Talagang malaking tulong ito para sa amin dahil umaasa lamang kami noon sa pagniniyog, lalo na nitong nagmura ang halaga ng kopra at buo ng niyog, kaya ngayon ay mayroon pa din kaming ibang ikabubuhay” said Mang Ote, a farmer in the area.

Cacao is one of the high-value crops planted in NGP sites due to its high demand in the market. The seeds harvested by the NGP beneficiaries are being sold to Batangas and Mulanay, Quezon for production of chocolate “tablea” and cookies.

The plantation is sustainably managed by the forest occupants under the supervision of the CENRO Catanauan, Quezon.

“I am pleased that the efforts of those who have helped and supported the government’s reforestation program such as farmers, POs, LGUs, and DENR employees have been very positive. I hope that more people's lives will be changed and make our forests more productive in the years ahead” OIC, CENRO Joselito Barros said, as the impact of this NGP is seen positively to the lives of the beneficiaries.

Other NGP sites within the jurisdiction of CENRO Catanauan, Quezon are regularly monitored by the officials and forest extension officers to ensure a high survival rate. ###