Organics meets NTFPs

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


THE United Nations is poised to shift from the Millennium Development Goals of reducing extreme poverty to that of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the 2012 Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want,” the UN linked the SDGs to poverty reduction, water, food, energy, environmental sustainability, climate change, and natural disasters.

The good news is that Negros Occidental is ready to provide the country – if not the world – a model for attaining the SDGs. The province has the requisite vertical and horizontal linkages that the UN envisions for building the social and solidarity economy.

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For the verticals, the value chains of mountain-based organic producers are getting linked to the urban-based green markets of Bacolod and elsewhere. Organic advocates have joined the National Organic Agriculture Board. In the Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific, Negros Occidental through the Broad Initiatives for Negros Development is taking a lead role in the promotion of sustainable mountain development in cooperation with the Mountain Partnership.

For horizontals, we see the cooperation of the local government, the private sector, civil society organizations, and people’s organizations in policy enactment and implementation. The series of annual organic fairs, Panaad and even Masskara since the last decade has tested the test of sustainability.

For the energy sector, we have renewables that will soon be operational. Solar energy and biofuels in various Negrense towns and cities comes to mind.

Unknown to many, another pillar of the green economy is the promotion of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), a way to conserve our mountain tropical forest biodiversity while addressing poverty issues.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. has included bamboo as one of the major resources to prepare the province from the challenges of 2015 when tariff walls are reduced to near zero.

My colleagues from NGOs and people’s organizations met this week to organize the Board of Trustees of the NTFP-Philippines in Quezón City.

From the province, I enlisted Ramón S. Uy Jr., a stalwart of the Negrense organic industry, to become a board member. Thanks for accepting the challenge and welcome to my other development family, Chinchin.

Formerly known as the NTFP-Task Force, the Philippine program of the NTFP Exchange Programme (EP) for Southeast Asia, the newly-constituted Philippine Board agreed to constitute its own corporate identity while maintaining a horizontal relationship with the EP. The TF is the acknowledged lead NGO in the country that spearheads efforts to empower forest-dependent communities to use forest resources other than timber for their livelihoods.

The aims of the NTFP family include the promotion of a favorable policy environment on community and NTFP-based forest management at local and national level; improve economic and social benefits and promote indigenous culture of forest-dependent communities through sustainable community and NTFP-based enterprises; and strengthen, develop and promote the sustainable harvesting of NTFP resources.

Admitting to being overwhelmed with forestry policy issues such as land tenure and use rights, Chinchin found his bearing as an entrepreneur when discussion veered on community-based NTFP business ventures such as the marketing of wild Apis dorsata honey.

Of particular interest was the beeswax of the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan which has a hard time finding buyers. Chinchin expressed interest in buying Natripal’s whole stock. The organic entrepreneur meets the NTFP community-based Palawan enterprises. I hope both sign a business deal.

Yes, indeed, Negrenses have the vertical and horizontal partnerships not just in Negros Island but for the country. We are for the world!

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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