MMSU leads SUCs to put up nipa plantation for PH greening program with DENR

MMSU, through President Shirley C. Agrupis, led other officials from the seven state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country in the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the establishment of a 170-hectare nipa plantation in support of the country's National Greening Program (NGP).


The MOA was signed last October 3 at the Crowne Plaza Galleria in Ortigas Center, Quezon City with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. The other SUCs were the Aklan State University, Cagayan State University, Central Luzon State University, Marinduque State College, Pangasinan State University, Western Philippines University, and the University of Antique.


These SUC heads have agreed with the DENR to use nipa as one of the commodities in the implementation of the NGP in the country. MMSU will serve as the lead agency of the project.


As agreed upon, the DENR shall provide some P50 million to the eight SUCs for the establishment of the plantation and part of that will be used to put up a composite nursery sites in their respective areas. The selected tertiary schools shall take charge in the operation and development of both the plantation and the nursery.


The DENR, through its Forest Management Bureau, shall monitor the maintenance and protection of the nipa plantation, while the SUCs shall provide support to help ensure its successful operation including the implementation of the region's NGP.


Once it is established, the DENR and the SUCs will conduct training programs on nipa planting material production, plantation establishment, maintenance, and protection to interested local residents.


Established in 2015 through Executive Order no. 193, the NGP aims to cover the remaining 7.1 million-hectare of unproductive, denuded, and degraded forest lands across the country. Through this program, President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to reforest some 1.2 million hectares of denuded areas until 2022 in accordance with the updated 2016-2029 Master Plan for Forestry Development.


The NGP also seeks to provide opportunities for communities to develop social enterprise to produce sustainable livelihood, and encourage local government units and organized upland communities in the development of forest plantations.


Prior to this, Dr. Agrupis and DENR Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan signed a more specific MOA at the FEM Hall last October 1 as a prelude to the comprehensive signing of MOA.


During the meeting, Dr. Agrupis said this development effort is a response to the challenge of Senators Loren Legarda and Sherwin Gatchalian to come up with a 5,000-hectare nipa plantations in Regions 1 and 2.  The two solons were also behind the establishment of MMSU's National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC).


"The senators want to see a model-scale bioethanol industry that will serve as the main producer of bioethanol in the country, which will eventually reduce the importation of fossil-based fuels," Dr. Agrupis said.


"In response to this call, the university has already partnered with local government agencies, universities, and organizations in Ilocos Norte and in Cagayan Valley last May for the expansion of bioethanol production in the two regions using nipa," Dr. Agrupis said, adding that this development effort is also part of the Plant-a-Palm project that was launched at the five-hectare vicinity of the MMSU College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology (CASAT) in Currimao town last July 25 where 300 nipa seedlings were planted.