Saturday, 21 February 2009

Philippines creates 242,536 new jobs in countryside

By Othel V. Campos
The Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=politics1_feb21_2009

Two departments have embarked on income-generating projects that will create 242,536 jobs in the countryside.

At least 242,536 of the new jobs will be created by the Environment Department, which is hiring that much number of people as “green workers” to reforest upland areas.

Another 131,000 jobs will be made available in the farm and fisheries sector, the Agriculture Department said.

The new jobs form part of President Arroyo’s directive for state agencies to intensify income-generating services, using their own resources or funds that will come from the P330-billion economic stimulus package.

Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza said the “green collar” workers will operate under two major components comprising the jobs program, namely, the Upland Development Program and the Forest Watch project.

Atienza said around 52,425 upland farmers will be hired as workers to plant fruit trees and high-value crops on denuded forests.

At least 49,318 hectares of upland areas and around 2,000 hectares of mangrove areas have been set aside for the reforestation and agroforestry activities, Atienza said.

Another 59,111 upland residents will be hired as forest guards, with a monthly pay of P3,000.

Atienza explained that his department’s comprehensive livelihood and emergency employment program takes a four-pronged approach to creating jobs in the uplands as it addresses forest protection and rehabilitation of watersheds and mangrove areas, while opening up opportunities for income generation and food production.

Under the agro-forestry scheme, each farmer will be given a hectare to develop for a fee of P3,270 per month to plant cash crops. Income is expected to reach around P23,270 per year from the sale of their produce.

Priority areas for reforestation are watersheds, stream banks, mangrove areas, and open and denuded forest lands not covered by any Environment Department-issued tenurial instrument like community-based forest agreement but needing immediate rehabilitation.

The Agriculture Department’s jobs commitment is equal to one-sixth of the target under the economic pump-priming effort of the administration.

Secretary Arthur Yap said his department would create 81,134 jobs through the repair and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities nationwide and another 10,400 under its organic fertilizer production program.

The department also pledged to create another 36,500 jobs through the construction of farm-to-market roads, Yap said.

Yap called on Congress to do its share in helping government mitigate the effects of the worldwide financial contagion on the economy by passing an economic stimulus bill that will bankroll these commitments reached during the jobs summit at Malacañang.

The jobs program will also involve the Public Works Department, Education Department, state universities and colleges, the Environment, Labor and the Trade Departments.

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