FAO, DA-BAR hold National Agrobiodiversity Forum and ABD Project Culmination

To present the program highlights and its significant contributions in agrobiodiversity conservation in Ifugao and South Cotabato, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the DA-BAR organized a National Agrobiodiversity Forum on 28 October 2022 at Verjandel Hotel in Diliman, Quezon City. 

Convening representatives from various government agencies, academe, and civil society organizations, the said activity also served as the culmination of the project titled, Dynamic Conservation and Sustainable Use of Agrobiodiversity in Traditional Agroecosystems of the Philippines, also known as the Agrobiodiversity (ABD) project. 

Studies showed that ABD in the Philippines is challenged by interventions that could affect agricultural species and varieties negatively. The ABD project with the funding assistance from the Global Environment Facility aimed to enhance, expand, and sustain the dynamic conservation practices to conserve agrobiodiversity in traditional ecosystems of the Philippines. 

The event further provided venue to discuss the steps that can be taken to sustain the gains of the six-year project. 

“We are committing to sustain the gains of this ABD project in the form of a future co-financing through the SCALE UP program by bringing all the mature, ready technology interventions that aim to improve the productivity of the community or the farm based on needs. It is market-driven, industry-driven, and farmer-centric,” said DA-BAR OIC-director Joell H. Lales in his welcoming remarks.  

“Tell us what you need and then we will bring forward the necessary interventions available through a very good collaboration among the national government [agencies],” he added. 

DA assistant secretary for Operations Arnel V. De Mesa highlighted that the project ensures food security for communities, particularly for the indigenous peoples who are at the forefront in the conservation efforts of crop varieties. 

FAO representative ad interim Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff emphasized in her message that indigenous crops face serious threats in climate change and pollution. Some are also close to extinction. With this, the dissemination of information is important for awareness, capacity building, and operational support. 

Dr. Mary Jane Ramos Dela Cruz and Atty. Paz J. Benavidez each discussed the status of the government’s contribution on the implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and updates on the recognition of the mechanisms on the proposed National Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, respectively.  

Assistant FAO representative for Programme Tamara Palis-Duran; DA-Agriculture and Fisheries Policy Division chief Amparo C. Ampil, representing undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Regulations Mercedita A. Sombilla were also present in the event. 

As the ABD project concludes in December 2022, participants from different agencies shared their testimonies during the open forum. 

Natutuwa talaga ako na ang mga organizations at ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno ay talagang on-the-ground. Talagang nakatulong ang ABD project sa aming farmers dahil mas naka-develop kami ng iba’t ibang produkto mula sa aming mga tanim,” said Chita Sulan of T'boli tribe of Lake Sebu. 


Meanwhile, Mayor Florencio B. Nalula from Hingyon, Ifugao said that, “Kita naman sa mga mukha at sharings kanina na malaki ang naiabot na tulong ng project sa mga magsasaka”. 

He also expressed that the project has empowered the farmers of the province. 

Partner agencies of the ABD project pledged their commitment to meet their respective tasks and responsibilities in the sustainability plan to uphold and strengthen positive outcomes, gains, and progress in communities. 

Virginia L. Agcopra, national project coordinator of ABD, shared her appreciation of the stakeholders who were involved in the project and were part of the activity.
“We hope that you will remember your commitment to support the ABD sustainability plan,” she said. (### Diwa J. Velasquez)