Saturday, May 5, 2018


Caring for the Environment the SCoPSA Way

By Aurelius P. Arais

(PIA) -- “Nature is our way of life. This is our ancestral home.”

This is how Eddie Ampiyawan known as “Datu Bawang”, a Higaonon Tribal Chieftain, regard their tribal community in a mountainous area in Brgy. Lawan-Lawan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.

“Aside from picking wild fruits, our primary means of livelihood is farming,” he said.

According to Datu Bawang, who is the chairperson of the Lekda Higaonon Farmers Producers Cooperative (LeHFaPCo) which has 30 members, their usual practice in farming was to clear a piece of land in hilly areas, plant corn, harvest them and then leave the area and look for another area to cultivate crops. In the process, hilly areas are left barren and in danger of a landslide.

But that was before. Their traditional way of farming has ended after embracing a project from the Department of Agriculture (DA). This project somehow changed their outlook towards the environment.

Dubbed as Sustainable Corn Production for Sustainable Agriculture (SCoPSA), this project is implemented through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The project aims to enhance productivity level of corn farmers through the promotion of a sustainable land use management that will enhance agricultural livelihood and restore ecological balance in sloping areas of the country cultivated with corn.

Technologies  demonstrated  in  the  farm is focused  on  soil  erosion  control  and  gully stabilization coupled with soil fertility improvement, such as contouring, buffer cropping system, crop rotation, among others.

“Never in our imagination could those abandoned hilly areas still be utilized again as a source of our livelihood. Nowadays, (there is) no need for us to leave and look for a new area to be cultivated,” Datu Bawang said.

He said SCoPSA teaches them the value of a piece of land which could sustainably provide them food and means of livelihood.

Initially, only three hectares had been developed in SCoPSA way. And with their renewed appreciation to the benefits of the program, it now covers a total land area of 15 hectare..

Through the “Bayanihan” spirit among coop members, the area had been planted with corn, banana, coffee, mangosten, durian, and pineapple, wherein the planting materials had been given by the Department of Agriculture with support from the provincial government of Agusan del Norte.

“We already harvested 40 sacks of corn, so it helps us for our food,” Datu Bawang said.

The Provincial Agriculture Office of Agusan del Norte provided technical support to the tribe, especially on pest monitoring to ensure good harvest.

“To help our IP brothers, the provincial government trained and provided an allowance to two tribe members as para-technician,” said Oscar Tuyor, provincial corn coordinator.

Soon farmers in Lawan-lawan, some 46 kilometers from Buenavista Poblacion, will experience ease in transporting agricultural products upon the completion of the on-going construction of a national highway going to Bukidnon which traverses their area.

In Caraga Region, three areas had been identified as SCoPSA sites since last year including Brgy. Malapong in Buenavista, Brgy. Culit in Nasipit and Brgy. Lawan-lawan in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.  Additional areas are still under validation. (DA Caraga/PIA-Caraga)