Nine members of the Local Government Unit of General Nakar, Quezon visited the Los Baños Experimental Station (LBES) and other facilities in Los Baños Laguna for a two-day Lakbay Aral as part of the ENR technology promotion through demonstration areas activity by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) on April 23 to 24 2015.

 

Dr. Antonio Daño, Assistant Director of ERDB welcomed the participants. He related his first-hand experience of General Nakar's natural resources when he visited the municipality 20 years ago. Angelito Exconde, OIC chief of AFMD, also greeted the participants and expressed his hopes for continuous environmental collaboration with them.

The group spent the first day of the Lakbay Aral by visiting the bamboo and rattan gallery at the ERDB premises. Then, Ms. Veronica O. Sinohin gave the participants a brief introduction about ERDB, as well as its different programs and research centers.

Forester Gregorio Santos Jr. kicked off the second day of Lakbay Aral by sharing his experiences and expertise specifically on bamboo propagation. He also entertained some questions and concerns from the participants. Afterwards, the group headed to LBES wherein different species of bamboos and other plants can be seen. They also visited the premises of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) where Dr. Carlos M. Garcia gave a lecture about FPRDI and its functions. He also led the visit on FPRDI's premises particularly the different eqipment used in processing engineered bamboos and other forest products.

Lastly, the group toured around the ERDB's Special Project Area for the Clonal Propagation Facility and Charcoal Briquette Technology.

Before heading home, the participants expressed their feedbacks and opinions regarding the Lakbay Aral. Councilor Jayson Risico of Brgy. Maligaya said that he has learned a lot from the experience. He specifically cited charcoal briquetting as a possible technology that they can adopt in their community. Likewise, Barangay Mahabang Lalim Chairwoman Juanita Avellaneda expressed her gratitude towards ERDB for being chosen as participants of Lakbay Aral. As for her, she thinks that bamboo propagation will be a suitable technology for their barangay since they are near the rivers. However, she voiced out her concern regarding the lack of financial provision to support the technology.

Monetary funding to avail the needed equipment was also the main concern of Barangay Batangan Chairman Diosdado Borreo. Though he said that the technologies, especially the charcoal briquetting, will be a very feasible alternative source of livelihood for the residents of General Nakar, the machines are too costly to provide.

Although ERDB could not deliver the immediate needs of the participants, Dr. Henry Adornado, ERDB's Acting Director assured that the bureau will give its utmost effort to provide the technical assistance needed by the municipality and the LGUs. He emphasized that even though the main objective of the Lakbay Aral is to raise awareness and educate residents to "use minor forest products instead of major forest products", ERDB is open to the possibility of providing machines for the partner municipality in the following years.

Based on the results of the Training Needs Survey (TNS) answered by seven participants, the technology they are most interested in adopting is the charcoal briquetting, followed by forest tree species and agroforestry, and lastly, bamboo propagation. For other technologies, nursery techniques for fuelwood was recommended.

As for their part, the participants said that they can support the projects of ERDB in their communities through information dissemination and attendance to trainings and activities. On the other hand, they expressed their "strong desire" for ERDB to conduct trainings and seminars on selected technology, to provide technical assistance, technology for livelihood, and provision of equipment for charcoal briquetting. Melanie N. Ojeda, TTD