Convergence project to benefit 8 MP town

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BONTOC, Mountain Province – Eight municipalities of Mountain Province will benefit from the government’s convergence initiative program that focuses on the conservation and rehabilitation of rice terraces for food security in Mountain Province.

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), the convergence’s coordinating body in coordination with the provincial government conducted a consultation with stakeholders on May 8 for the Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Conservation for Food Security Development Plan 2018-2022 at the Congressional Hall, Capitol Building while a joint municipal site ocular inspection was done in the municipalities of Barlig and Besao last May 9 and 10, respectively.

Participants during the consultation were municipal coordinators, municipal Mandatory Indigenous Peoples Representatives (IPMRs) and municipal officials from the recipient municipalities of Barlig, Bauko, Bontoc, Sadanga, Sabangan and Tadian.

According to NAPC Coordinator for Convergence Project (CP), Sheillete Untalan, the activity aims to further improve and solicit feedback to the components of the proposed Development Plan 2018-20122 that was earlier submitted by the different municipalities.

She noted the consultation is the third of a series of convergence workshop activities, the first having been done in the capital town of Bontoc, while the second was in Baguio City attended by provincial governments and identified stakeholders for input validation of the formulated five-year development plan.

The 5-year development plan is a comprehensive, pro-farmer and pro-indigenous peoples’ development plan dubbed as “5-Year Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Conservation Plan for 2018 – 2022” for the rehabilitation and conservation of rice terraces in 24 municipalities in the Cordillera, addressing a host of development issues from land and ancestral domain, agricultural development, human capital development, and socio-economic empowerment.

Alfredo Antonio, NAPC Division Chief for Local Convergence said that the refined final output of the different stakeholders will be consolidated by the provincial government before submission to the NAPC office. He said that the NAPC will then present the final outputs during the Regional Development Council and Economic Development Council meetings and during the assemblies of other bodies like the UNESCO etc. for funding.

He explained that NAPC–Local Affairs Coordinating and Monitoring Services is spearheading the CP until such time that the operational local structure is in place.

It will be recalled that the CP was established in September last year in Baguio City to help rehabilitate and conserve the Cordillera region’s rice terraces that is anchored on upholding and protecting indigenous peoples (IP) rights to their ancestral lands and is consistent with the Igorot’s economic and socio-cultural principles. NAPC stakeholders are composed of the national line agencies, provincial government, academe, people’s organizations and non-government organizations.

During the consultation and the site inspection, discussions and some informant interviews with selected people’s organizations and farmer’s associations in the covered areas were conducted to deepen the understanding of the situation of the convergence’s affiliate basic sectors.

The stakeholders and the farmer beneficiaries have all acknowledged the importance of rice terraces since it is the main source of food and also manifests the identity and culture of the Igorots.

Among the issues that requires the intervention of concerned agencies is the poor irrigation systems resulting from the destruction of forests and water sources caused the abandonment of some rice terraces. Other development issues are confined in the agricultural and economic aspects, socio-cultural aspects and institutional aspects.

George Lumiwes, head of the Provincial Secretariat for the CP said that the provincial government assures that the development challenges and priorities of the IP and farmers as the municipal beneficiaries are incorporated in the local development plans before their submission to the NAPC office.

Meanwhile, Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan Jr., assured the full participation and cooperation of the provincial government in the endeavor of the convergence program.  He said that when realized, the CP would greatly benefit the IPs in this part of the country.

Likewise, IPMR Chairperson, Tomas B. Tawagen called on the different stakeholders to support the CP and to participate on all levels of development process.

By Erwin S. Batnag

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