Mangyans, Inmates Participate In Intex’s LEAF Tree-Planting Project February 21, 2013 While the minerals development industry is at the doldrums as it waits for the lifting of the government moratorium on mining, some companies have remained focused on addressingsocietal expectations for sustainable development. These expectations include mitigating the harmful effects of climate change, maximizing land use, protecting damaged ecosystems, and providing livelihood opportunities to residents of host communities. One such company, Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., has found an innovative way of effectively meeting these expectations through a tree-planting project called “Livelihood Enhancement through Agro-Forestry” or LEAF. And while initially intended as Intex’s response to government’s call for private sector participation in the National Greening Program, LEAF is now also proving to be an inclusive development mechanism with the active involvement of two sectors that are often sidelined in the pursuits of mainstream society: indigenous peoples (IPs) and inmates. In Sablayan Penal Colony in Occidental Mindoro, some 40 minimum-security inmates are being trained under LEAF’s plant propagation program in a total 17-hectare demonstration farm and nursery operated by Intex. In the farm, two rows of rubber trees have been planted, separated by two rows of coffee and banana, respectively. “This arrangement will eventually develop into a three-canopy agro-forestry plantation,” explains Andy Pestaño, Intex Community Relations and Development Office manager, says. “And since banana and coffee require two years to propagate and rubber four years, early value crops such as sweet potato, cassava and pineapple are planted in between the tree and bush crops in the interim.” Over at Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, around 500 Mangyan belonging to the SADAKI indigenous peoples organization are implementing the LEAF system in a 55-hectare area provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the National Greening Program. “Apart from the trees and crops being planted by their inmate-counterparts at Sablayan, our Mangyans partners in Victoria have included hardwood trees and local crops in the configuration,” Pestaño adds. “Overall, our partners in the Sablayan Penal Colony and the Mangyans of Victoria have propagated some 200,000 plants. We have likewise planted more than 45,0000 trees over currently a 60-hectare area,” he says. “LEAF is designed to encourage local farmers to better utilize their land and establish sustainable income, growing over time as more crops reach harvesting age,” says Leo Gamolo, Intex EVP. “Partnership with international off takers for coffee and rubber will ensure local farmers a sustainable income. LEAF has already generated considerable interest among local farmers and other Mangyan indigenous communities. Training sessions are being held at Intex’s facility, even as help in the form of seedling distribution is extended to those who wish to implement the project in their backyards. “Our partner stakeholders come primarily from the areas where the tree-planting will take place, and since they will be doing the work its only fitting that they reap the benefits of LEAF. As these ecosystems are restored, these trees will provide added security against flooding, erosion and in time will bear fruits that they can sell as well,” Gamolo points out.
Intex Resources Philippines Inc. 2014