By VICTOR REYES | July 30, 2014
AT least 5,200 “robusta” coffee seedlings have been planted in a military camp in Bukidnon to help generate funds for the modernization program of the Armed Forces, a ranking official said yesterday.
Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the seedlings were planted last Saturday in coordination with the environment, agriculture, and agrarian reform departments and Nestle Philippines.
Visaya said the seedlings were planted at the 200-hectare Coffee Plantation Pilot Project inside Camp Kibaritan. The 16,000-hectare camp is a training facility of the Army’s 403rd Brigade.
“We intend to plant at least 1,000 seedlings per hectare. The 5,200 seedlings we planted only covered five hectares (of the plantation),” said Visaya, adding they are targeting to complete the planting within the year.
He said the plantation will be attended to by former New People’s Army rebels. “That is part of our assistance to them in terms of livelihood,” said Visaya.
“We (military) have also allocated a portion of it for our brothers who have returned to mainstream society just to make sure that their life with their families will be sustained,” said Visaya.
“The estimate is that we will start harvesting after three years. They (rebel returnees) will have no problem (selling the product) because Nestle Philippines promised to buy them,” Visaya also said.
He could not immediately say how much will be earned from the project.
Visaya said the project was finalized after research and series of planning and consultation sessions. He expressed optimism that they came up with a “very sustainable project that will work in many ways.”
“We can help generate funds to help our economy and modernize your soldiers to better serve the Filipino people and at the same time help generate potential employment,” he said.
The modernization program calls for the acquisition of more modern equipment, including frigates for the Navy and fighter jets for the Air Force. The program is primarily funded by government appropriations.
Visaya’s spokesman, Maj. Christian Uy, said the program “is line with the trust of the Department of National Defense to generate funds to support the modernization of the AFP.”
Authorities are also targeting to plant coffee and bamboo in Fort Magsaysay, home of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, in Nueva Ecija.
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