A place where people can plant, pray and rest. This is how Architect Rhia Belle Gatdula envisioned the Green Pasture Place, a three-hectare property in Brgy. Tughan, Juban, Sorsogon.
Gatdula was a post-graduate student in Landscape Architecture in the University of the Philippines in 2011 when she travelled to Sorsogon together with her fellow architects to craft an agri-tourism and eco-tourism masterplan of the province entitled “Sorsogon Diamond in the Rough.” Six years after, Gatdula now witnesses the realization of that plan as the Province of Sorsogon started adopting some of their concepts particularly the development of an agri-tourism hub in Green Pasture Place. The farm features cassava plantation, herbal plant propagation and vermi-composting. It also has a livelihood training and seminar center with a sustainable design.
The Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) in partnership with the Provincial Government of Sorsogon provided 150 grafted pili trees to Gatdula as pili farmer-cooperator for its Sorsogon Pili Orchard Development Project (SPODP). According to PPMIU-Sorsogon I-REAP Component Head and Provincial Agriculturist Dr. Maria Teresa Destura, the SPODP was conceived as an intervention identified in the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan for pili, Sorsogon’s top commodity.
“This is one way para ma-support yung production component para mas dumami pa ang ating pili trees dito sa Province of Sorsogon (This is one way to support the production component to increase the number of pili trees in the Province of Sorsogon),” Destura said.
Esteven Garcia, PPMIU-Sorsogon I-REAP staff added that the project will assure supply for the province’s PRDP I-REAP enterprise. The DA’s regional advisory board recently approved the Sorsogon Pili Enterprise Cluster, a P26.21 million-worth subproject that will engage in processing quality pili oil and pili products such as candies and confectioneries.
PLGU-Sorsogon also allocated P250,000 for the construction of a concrete port perimeter fence in the area. Gatdula committed to develop one hectare of the Green Pasture Place into a pili orchard while the DA and PLGU will provide technical supervision and logistic support to Gatdula in implementing the project. On the other hand, the Provincial Project Management and Implementing Unit (PPMIU) of Sorsogon will take charge of the monitoring and evaluation of the orchard and follow technical recommendations of the authorized technicians.
“They say that pili grows for more than 100 years. That means, two generations will benefit from the pili tree so it’s a good legacy for our children and their children. The farmers and researchers can also benefit from this development,” Gatdula said.
Sorsogon Governor Robert Lee Rodrigueza expressed his gratitude to Gatdula and Green Pasture Place for their partnership and support to the SPODP.
“Sana mas dumami pa ang mga katulad ninyo na nagpapadaba din sa ating mga farmers (Hopefully, more people will be encouraged to imitate your example of loving our farmers),” he said.
DA-PRDP turned over another pili orchard in Blanquisco Farm Lumbang, Pilar, Sorsogon on September 21, 2017. As LGU counterpart to PRDP, the PLGU also allocated an additional one million pesos for the development of four hectares of pili orchard in 2018.
PRDP is a six-year, World Bank-assisted national project under the DA that aims to establish an inclusive, market-oriented and climate-smart agri-fishery sector in the countryside. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)