Almaciga: Lighting up lives in Governor Generoso (Last of Three Parts)

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Sustainable income

GOVERNOR GENEROSO, Davao Oriental (MindaNews/08 August) – The Biodiversity Partnership Project covers 12 of the town’s 20 barangays namely, Sergio Osmeña, Tandang Sora, Upper Tibanban, Oregon, Tiblawan, Luzon, Surop, Tagabebe, Pundaguitan and Tamban.

It involves 121 households, each earning an average of 8,000 to 10,000 a month from tapping resin, according to Joey Gamao. “But it depends on your effort because one of the tappers told me he’s earning up to 18,000 pesos a month,” he said.

Vice Mayor Vicente Orencia and Joey Gamao at the resin buying station in Governor Generoso. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

“If you have 200 trees, for example, this week you can tap 50, another 50 the next and so on. By the time you finish tapping the last 50 trees you can now harvest from the first 50 trees. Bigger trees yield more resin. You’d harvest an average of half a kilo per tree,” Gamao said, explaining the cycle.

Cebu-based CRU International Corp. buys the resin produced by the tappers at 20 pesos per kilo. The company wanted to buy 15 tons per month from them but at present they can only produce eight tons, he said.

He emphasized that the tappers receive the 20 pesos per kilo for their resin intact. CRU pays for the trucking and shipping cost, P1.50 per kilo fee to DENR and P.50 per kilo mobilization fund for the barangays. “If we add these amounts, each kilo of resin would cost 31 pesos.”

The municipal government currently earns no revenues from resin. “Buhion usa nato ang tawo,” (Let us first ensure the people’s survival) Vice Mayor Orencia said.

“Our model is easy: fast transaction for tappers, only a permit from the DENR is needed. What we did was organize them into a Lumad Almaciga Tappers Association of Governor Generoso. They are paid right after they bring their resin to the bodega where it is weighed,” he said.

“A paint manufacturer wants to buy from us because our resin is cleaner compared to Palawan’s. We don’t let the resin spill on the trunk and into the ground. We clean the trunk and then put cellophane that would catch the resin,” he said.

He added that buyers from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore also showed interest to get resin from them.

But Gamao said the resin they produce at present is only 75-percent soluble, preventing them from commanding a higher price. To attain 95- to 100-percent solubility, he said they would need a melting machine.

“Once it becomes 100-percent soluble we can sell directly to Boysen. So I asked researchers to determine the location and soil type best suited to almaciga so we can achieve 100-percent solubility,” Orencia said.

Another source of income for the Lumad is almaciga seeds which the local government buys at 10 pesos each. “We have to give them incentives,” the official said.

The vice mayor said they previously used almaciga wildlings for their reforestation program but observed that these have a high mortality rate compared to seeds, which come out every September.

They had sent 1,000 seeds to Buda in Davao City where they are expected to grow fast due to the cool temperature and high elevation of the place. They are also expanding to Mati and Bansalan in Davao del Sur to cope with the growing demand for resin. Moreover, some Ata-Manobo from Paquibato district, also in Davao City, had trained in this town [in resin tapping].

“Every July 26 we hold a ritual in the mountain and then plant trees. After planting we would hold a tappers congress, a special day. That’s why some environmentalists are giving us attention because we plant almaciga yearly. We’re even rehabilitating an abandoned mining site,” Orencia said.

“I was invited to a Biodiversity Congress in 2016 and 2017. After my presentation the DENR said ‘Why didn’t you tell this to us earlier? We need that,’’’ Orencia said.

Last August 1, the town held its annual Almaciga Festival to celebrate what the project has done to improve the lives of the Lumad.

But beyond the festivity Orencia said they want to engage in value-adding by making the resin into a finished product. He added they want their project to be replicated in other areas of the country as a strategy for forest protection. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)

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