Nature is at its best just being “natural.” This is the cornerstone of what Mr. Benjamin Maputi and the the rest of the Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center people believes.
God created Earth to be at its best. It is the changes that men applied through the years that make nature worst. By preserving what is natural in our environment, people benefit much from it.
That’s why in the Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center (MKAETDC), they try to make a harmonious relationship with nature to reap the full potential.
The 22-hectare agro-forest of Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is an example of the importance of keeping the balance – a balance of protecting and preserving nature while earning from it.
Ben Maputi, who is also a barangay captain in the area, says that the Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center sets a standard that he hopes that the community, and other upland farms can adopt.
The Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is known for its improved upland farming system that shows diversity of plants, trees and animals. Various fruit-bearing trees, livestock are noticeably within the area. All of which harmoniously benefiting each other.
Natural food for animals provided by plants, while fertilizers provided by animals for the plants and trees. Mr. Maputi sports of the MKAETDC’s methods of natural farm methods to make sure that their produce are all organic.
One of the fast moving products of Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is oil – particularly oil from Citronella Grass.
There were huge areas of Citronella grass planted in the 22-hectare agri-forest – which also help naturally repelling the nearby community from different pests.
The community benefits by harvesting and extracting the oil collectively from the grasses and sell the pure oil to local commercial distributors and manufacturers.
Ben Maputi also takes pride in the involvement of rehabilitating the area by curbing the “kaingin” or massive slashing and burning of trees in Mt. Kitanglad. WithMt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center, people became more aware and more responsible on forest conservation.
Thus, the Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center reforestation of has been the springboard and source of seedlings for endemic plants and trees in the region and also a ground for some foreign trees.
Aside from oil extraction from plants and trees, the Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is an area abundant of tea trees. This plantation serves as an economic boost also for the community.
Being part of the ASEAN Heritage Park, the whole Mt. Kitanglad, is a protected area making it suitable for wildlife to freely habitat. Thus, one of the many ways that locals earn is from the ecological tourism it brings.
The Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is one of the main jump-off points for bird watchers, researchers and nature trekkers going to Mt. Kitanglad. Similar to what we did with the Agricultural Training Institute.
A very basic and simple resting place is available right for tourists.
After the trekking inside the protected areas, and seeing a century-old tree, it made me realize that the story of The Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is both an inspiring and challenging one. As to how this can be replicated in other areas in the Philippines.
Seeing a century-old tree in the midst of a community that protects it while earns from it, is an idea that can motivate others as well for the next generation to experience.
The preservation of a forest like this, which is pretty much, dwindling down in numbers, especially in nearby provinces to urban areas, may be a big challenge. Specially with many people depending on how they can earn, most of the time, nature is compromised.
The challenge, really, is making the people understand the long-term benefits of protecting the environment while benefiting from its preservation.
To take a closer look on how The Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center is doing good on its own, better go there directly and take a look at their system.