The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) may release funds within the first half of 2020 to finance studies on converting Bohol’s barren highlands into a productive agricultural tourism destination.
Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado said Dr. Engelbert Lalican, Science Research Specialist II of PCAARRD of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) led a team that studied the soil type of the highlands of Cambugsay, Ilihan and San Pascual in Ubay town to determine the kind of trees suitable for it.
Aumentado who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology said PCAARRD will assist in converting the area into a farm tourism destination.
The solon said the view from the highlands is picturesque, and scientific interventions are needed to support the farmers’ and women’s groups willing to venture into organic agriculture.
He said the organization already has a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA), a tenurial document covering 100 hectares, issued by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The group already has 10 hectares planted to bamboo as their way of nurturing their watershed.
Aumentado pointed out that the hundreds of ducks attracted to the water in the dam reservoir converging every day in the area rates high in attracting tourists.
To provide more vegetation and to augment the organization’s income, Lalican and his team will look into the suitability of coffee and vegetables. If found viable, PCAARRD will allocate funds to start up a plantation.
The study will also determine the kind of endemic trees and other crops that can grow in the area, including their planting cycles, as well as the kind of native animals that can be raised for food. Aumentado said trees and plants help to hold water, prevent erosion, and attract rain and minimize siltation of the dam reservoir.
The native animals are already acclimatized to the local setting, hence, they will not be as sensitive as the imported breeds. They will have better chances of survival, he added.
All these will provide food for the expected tourists when the area will be developed for nature-friendly facilities and activities.
Aumentado said he will call a convergence meeting shortly among the regional directors of the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA) that has jurisdiction over dams, DOST and DENR to level off the development efforts.(June S. Blanco)