Rubber Plantations in Cotabato, Philippines
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a P10-million grant to South Cotabato province to fund the development of additional rubber plantations in the mountains of T’boli town.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculture officer, said Wednesday the funds would mainly be utilized to finance the opening of new rubber plantations this year in Sitio Basag of Barangay Salacafe in T’boli.
“We’re targeting to plant at least 55,500 rubber trees that will be intercropped with coffee in idle upland farms in the area,” he said.
Legaste said the DA central office earlier approved the financial grant for the project as part of the implementation of the agency’s poverty alleviation initiative Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).
Through the program, the provincial government opened three years ago an initial 167 hectares of rubber plantations in three villages in nearby Lake Sebu town.
In the T’boli rubber program, Legaste said the provincial government has set aside an augmentation fund of P2 million as counterpart for its implementation.
Initially, he said some 84 local farmers have signified to plant rubber in their own farmlands.
He said the project’s beneficiaries are members of the South Cotabato Rubber-Based Farming Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SCRBF-MPC).
“These are poor, small farmers who own at least a hectare of underdeveloped farmlands and were not earning enough to meet the basic needs of their families,” Legaste said.
Barangay Salacafe, which is among the remotest villages in the province, is among the areas in the province that has posted high incidence of poverty. Majority of its residents are members of the T’boli tribe.
The village straddles Mt. Melebingoy (formerly Parker) and crater-lake Holon (formerly Maughan), which have emerged as an alternative eco-tourism destinations in the province these past years.
Legaste said the rubber project in T’boli is designed as a “combination of food security intervention and community-based livelihood activity” under the Community Fund for Agriculture Development (CFAD) component.
Aside from providing livelihood to local farmers, he said the project also aims to help promote the government’s reforestation program, specifically by increasing the area’s forest cover and vegetation as well as help rehabilitate the soil resources there.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said they are hoping that the planting of rubber in T’boli town will help ease the flooding problems and siltation at the critical Allah River.
The headwaters of Allah River, which traverses the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, are located in the mountains of T’boli.