Avocado plantation pushed on NoCot ancestral domain

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MAKILALA, North Cotabato–The North Cotabato provincial government is set to partner with a private investor to develop a Hass avocado plantation in an idle piece of land under the Manobo ancestral domain here.

Governor Nancy Catamco said the vast tracts of land are still under-developed by claimants due to financial constraints and lack of suitable knowledge on agriculture and commerce.

The target area is in Barangay Buhay where the Tagabawa Manobo indigenous community claims the land as their ancestral domain.

On Friday morning, Catamco held an initial meeting with the private investor and Tagabawa leaders led by Manatem Bienvenido Macalos, who heads the Tana Ka Katugallan Nit Paa Te Apu Sandawa; Matanem Rama Lopez, the certificate of ancestral domain title holder of Barangay Buhay; Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) Mandatory Representative Merna Linao; and Mamutur Cariga, the provincial environment, and natural resource officer.

“This project intends to assist the IPs in developing their lands through viable investments which can uplift their means of living and financial conditions”, Catamco said.

The Hass avocado variety is suitable for planting in elevated areas from 800-1,000 above sea level and, thus, continuously produces fruits throughout the year. Catamco said she plans to expand the project to other unutilized ancestral lands in the province.

Catamco assured that a Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process will be initiated for the project to protect the IPs’ rights.

Macalos, on the other hand, asked the governor to help them prepare all the necessary documents to fasten the project implementation.

“We initially agreed to this undertaking which is a huge opportunity for the whole Tagabawa community to gain better living”, he said. -PNA

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