Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura will attend the turnover ceremony of “The Project for the Improvement of the Organic Composting Facility in the Municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet” on 9 March 2011. Benguet Provincial Governor Nestor Fongwan, Congressman Ronald Cosalan, La Trinidad Municipal Mayor Gregorio Abalos, Jr. and Mr. Yoichiro Kawasaki, Project Manager of the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC), will also witness the turnover. The project, amounting to US$89,993 (approximately 4.1 million pesos) is funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
The Municipality of La Trinidad is endowed with rich and vast track of agricultural lands, and has the largest vegetable trading post in the Philippines. More than 1,000 tons of vegetables from entire Benguet Province are traded in the municipality. The trading post plays a vital role in the supply of highland vegetables to Metropolitan Manila and other parts of Luzon.
Vegetable production in the municipality, however, is facing two major problems. With the high demand for vegetables and other farm products, farmers have started using inorganic fertilizer and pesticide, and the practice has caused soil degradation, poor plant growth and frequent disease outbreaks. Even though farmers want to use organic fertilizer, they have no other choice but to buy chemical-based fertilizer due to the limited supply of organic fertilizer in the municipality.
Another pressing concern is the large quantity (about 60 tons) of vegetable wastes (trimmings) that are disposed at the vegetable trading post every day. The La Trinidad Municipal Government has initiated the processing of these wastes by setting up a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), but the volume of organic fertilizer they produce is too small because of its limited capacity. Hence, huge quantity of garbage is still being brought to the open dumpsite, which poses environmental concerns such as foul odor from decomposing garbage and methane gas emission. In addition, toxic liquids leaking out from the garbage dumpsite eventually contaminate rivers and springs that can adversely affect water sources of the residents.
Given these circumstances, the Municipality of La Trinidad decided to utilize the grant aid from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines to expand and improve the MRF by constructing additional composting compartments with the technical assistance of JAEC. With the improved facility, the production of organic fertilizer will increase, and farmers will be able to access good quality organic fertilizer at a reasonable price. The project will likewise help in reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides, which cause global warming. The grant aid is also used in purchasing a mini front tractor loader, which will help in loading, unloading and mixing compost materials faster than manual shoveling.
Japan, as the top donor of the official development assistance for the Philippines, launched GGP in the country in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities. As of the end of February 2011, 440 grassroots projects funded by GGP – ranging from roughly 1 to 4 million pesos – have been implemented by NGOs, local government units and other non-profit organizations. The total grant for these projects so far amounts to US$19,745,127. It is expected that this project will further contribute to fostering a strategic partnership between the two countries towards the future.