LAOAG CITY -— Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu visited his hometown in Ilocos Norte on Friday and made a side trip to Piddig, where he met with local officials to gain more insights on the ongoing development of the town’s model project under the national convergence initiative on coffee farming.
Initiated by former two-term Piddig mayor Eddie Guillen, a civil engineer and current consultant of the Municipal Mayor’s Office, the 1,750-hectare coffee development project in Piddig is now gaining ground to achieve its ultimate purpose of alleviating poverty by providing sustainable livelihood, both in upland and lowland communities.
At first, Guillen was able to convince the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to fund nurseries for lowland and highland coffee farming as part of its National Greening Program (NGP). The rest is history as other national government agencies and farmers’ organizations threw their support to this national convergence program for coffee.
How the local government unit of Piddig put together these government agencies to support this largest convergence initiate program is “impressive”, said Cimatu as he noted this can be replicated by other local government units nationwide through the enhanced NGP program.
“I was touched by this program and I am proud we have a (former) mayor like him (Guillen) who initiated it. It looks like a very simple program on NGP but there is more to it if we go beyond other concepts to make it successful,” Cimatu said.
After a short briefing at the municipal hall, Cimatu along with other top officials of the DENR went to Sitio Lammin to check on the coffee development project.
Describing his former work in the military as a tough job, he said being appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the new DENR Secretary is also tough as it came as a surprise to him but he told Ilocanos, “I will do my best to protect the environment”.
“The landscape is no longer the battle field but the landscape is nature itself. Perhaps, this is now my final chapter,” he said. LGA/PNA-northboundasia.com