State U. to use tree cloning in refo program

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/12 September) – A state-run university in Southwestern Mindanao or Region 12, one of the oldest academic institutions in the area, has accepted the challenge to operate a clonal facility to support a reforestation program in the region.

Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derije, president of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato, said the school has agreed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to host a clonal facility for the seedling requirements of the National Greening Program (NGP).

“We will utilize our students to assist activities related to the [implementation] of the greening program in our region,” he said.

Previously, Derije said the school’s participation to the reforestation program of the DENR was dismal because a sense of ownership was never felt.

With the agreement, he said this is a “welcome development as the university is joining hands with the DENR to contribute our share in the meaningful implementation of the NGP.”

The NGP is the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees until 2016 across the country in an area of about 1.5 million hectares.

Adeluisa Siapno, DENR Region 12 director, said that under the agreement, the DENR will extend P3.5 million to USM for the operation of a clonal facility.

“The facility will produce high quality planting materials, particularly those from superior indigenous forest tree species such as lauan, molave, and tanguile,” she said.

The cloning will be done by cutting the branches of the tree and nourishing them to become planting materials.

Under the agreement, the DENR shall extend technical assistance to USM through the former’s research service in the region, particularly on the scientific approach to clonal nursery operation.

“We will not only provide funding support, but we will also capacitate our counterparts and transfer the appropriate technology to them,” Siapno noted.

The USM, for its part, shall allocate an area within their sprawling campus where the clonal nursery shall be constructed.

Once capacitated, the school will undertake mass production of cloned quality planting materials for distribution to beneficiaries identified by the DENR field offices in the region.

Bighani Manipula, DENR Region 12 technical director, said the clonal facility project with USM would immediately commence as soon as the national office returns the agreement with the signature of Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

So far, the DENR has forged clonal facility agreements with at least 10 state universities and colleges across the country to boost the NGP program, Manipula said.

USM is one of the premier state universities in Region 12 with the Kabacan campus having an area of 1,024 hectares. It started operation on October 1, 1954.

Region 12 is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)