High-value vegetables from Greenhouses established by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Boracay Island are now being produced by the Ati Tribe.
DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the Greenhouse project was launched coinciding with the reopening of the world’s famous island resort on October 26 in order to benefit the Ati Tribal Organization in Bgy. Manoc-Manoc, Malay town.
Evelyn Laviña, DA Undersecretary for High-Value Crops, and Ranibai Dilangalen, Undersecretary for Special Concerns, led the launching of Boracay rehabilitation projects, including the urban vegetable gardening, greenhouse facility for high value crops, and fiberglass fishing boats.
Piñol disclosed that two months after the closure of the island, he visited the ati village and urged the Ati tribe members to convert their 2.1-hectare ancestral domain into an agri-tourism site.
Aside from the P1.92 million cash assistance he turned over in June to the Ati tribe families and women households, Piñol also committed to put up sustainable livelihood projects, including the urban vegetable garden and soon to be materialized organic eatery and hotel.
He explained that Greenhouse facilities for high-value crops were put up in Bgy. Manoc-Manoc, aims to provide sustainable livelihood to the members of the Ati Tribal Organization and Boracay Women’s Producers Cooperative.
“Using hydrophonics technology, the beneficiaries will be able to produce red and green lettuce whole year-round. Approximately 200 kilograms of lettuce can be harvested here every week,” Piñol said.
He added the DA will also link the tribal organizations to hotels and restaurants in Boracay where the beneficiaries can directly market their produce for at least 400 per kilo.
“Ang environment dito maalat, mahangin at mainit, kaya meron kaming greenhouse facilities para sa high-value vegetable production ng mga Ati dito. We need to adapt to climate change. Since local establishments are willing to patronize the Ati’s farm produce, I am encouraging them to produce quality vegetables,” Laviña said.
Ati Tribal Organization Chieftain Delsa Justo thanked the DA for providing them livelihood which they themselves can sustain.
“Mula pa noon, kapanalig kami sa isla dito na hindi kami mamalimos sa tabi-tabi lang. Kami’y nabubuhay dahil sa lakas ng aming mga magulang. Ang DA ay lagi talagang bumabalik dito sa amin. Kasabihan namin noong una, hindi magdurugo ang lupa kapag ikaw ay magtanim, hindi kami magnanakaw,” she said.
The DA and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) trained the beneficiaries on vegetable production using hydrophonics, and other climate-resilitent technologies in farming.
Dilangalen, on the other hand, also commended their responsiveness to the projects as the group is already venturing into value-adding of their farm produce.
“Right after three weeks we submitted our plans of the Ati, the DA responded. This department, I told them, is like a face of God coming in person to us. Kaya sa akin, ang DA pala ay meaning niya ‘Dating Agad’,” said Sister Perla Balbastro of the Daughters of Charity who supervises the Ati village.