The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac City and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 1 vowed to develop a 60-hectare nipa nursery this year in support of the country’s National Greening Program (NGP).
In a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between MMSU President Shirley Agrupis and DENR Regional Director Reynulfo Juan on October 1, both parties decided to adopt nipa as one of the commodities to be included in the NGP implementation in Ilocos region.
The MOA signing coincided with the meeting of the key officials of the two agencies to present the shape files and location of the surveyed nipa areas through Google.
Under the agreement, the DENR shall provide the Batac University some PHP16.2 million for the development of nipa plantation and will identify the area where to establish the composite 60-hectare nursery site in parts of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan. The university shall take charge the operation and development of the nipa nursery.
The DENR, through its regional and provincial offices, shall monitor the establishment, maintenance, and protection of the nipa nursery, while MMSU shall provide support to help ensure the successful operation of the nursery and the implementation of the NGP.
In addition, training programs on nipa planting material production, plantation establishment, maintenance, and protection will be conducted among interested local communities.
Established under Executive Order No. 193, s. 2015, the NGP aims to cover the remaining 7.1 million-hectare of unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestlands across the country.
Through this program, President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to reforest some 1.2 million hectares of denuded areas between 2017 and 2022 in accordance with the updated 2016-2029 Master Plan for Forestry Development.
The NGP also seeks to provide opportunities for communities to develop social enterprise to produce sustainable livelihood, and encourage local government units and organized upland communities in the development of forest plantations.
During the meeting, Agrupis said the MOA signing of the two agencies is a response to the challenge of Senators Loren Legarda and Sherwin Gatchalian to come up with a 5,000-hectare nipa plantations in Regions 1 and 2.
The two solons were also behind the establishment of MMSU’s National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC).
“Senators Legarda and Gatchalian want to see a model-scale bioethanol industry, which will serve as the main producer of bioethanol in the country, which will eventually reduce the importation of fossil-based fuels,” Agrupis said.
“In response to this call, the university has already partnered with local government agencies, universities, and organizations in Ilocos Norte and in Cagayan Valley last May for the expansion of bioethanol production in the two regions using nipa,” Agrupis said, adding that this development effort is also part of the Plant-a-Palm project that was launched at the five-hectare vicinity of the MMSU College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology in Currimao town last July 25, where 300 nipa seedlings were planted.
In a related development, another comprehensive MOA signing is set on October 3 in Manila between the DENR and the representatives of eight state universities and colleges in the country such as MMSU, Aklan State University, Cagayan State University, Marinduque State University, Pangasinan State University, West Philippines University, and the University of Antique for the development of a 170-hectare nipa plantations as part of the NGP. (PNA)