Reforestation Program Is Paying Off

Article excerpt

A reforestation program that was initially intended to help preserve forestry resources that are being utilized by tobacco farmers for curing tobacco leaves has not only sustained the fuelwood requirements of the tobacco industry, it has also helped tobacco farmers, through cooperatives, earn additional income while doing their share in caring for the environment.

The program, called Reforestation through Cooperative Organizing and Capacity Building for Tobacco Farmers in the Ilocos Region and Region 2 spearheaded in 2001 by then Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (PMPMI), in partnership with its leaf suppliers, Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI), and Cordillera Green Network (CGN) has now planted a total of 3,650,000 trees.

To date, the project covers an approximate area measuring 1,306 hectares and has benefited hundreds of tobacco and rice farmers across Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley (Region 2) and Mindoro.

Noting the farmers' dependence on the availability of fuelwood for curing tobacco, "the reforestation program helps replenish the trees that were cut down for use as fuelwood in curing tobacco. This is also one of the company's way of recognizing its social obligation to contribute to environmental protection," says Atty. Amy Eisma, manager for public affairs and contributions of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) Inc.

When PMPMI and Fortune Tobacco Corporation merged their respective businesses and established the PMFTC Inc., the program took a higher gear as it intensified its efforts in organizing farmer cooperatives and taught them how to propagate seedlings and manage plantations. …