March 15, 2018
A group of Ifugao young leaders graduated this week under the second phase of a training program aimed at conserving globally important agriculture heritage sites (GIAHS) like the Ifugao Rice Terraces.
The course Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program (ISMTP) graduated 16 young leaders who have completed mentored research and sustainable development work, such as preserving the rice terraces and adding value to local farming under the ISMTP.
Said training is part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) technical cooperation for grassroots project.
The first phase (2014-2017) of the training focused on Human Resources Development Program for the Sustainable Development of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Designated Site "Ifugao Rice Terraces "in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the second phase (2017-2020) focused on Strengthening GIAHS Twinning for Sustainable Development of Communities in Ifugao Rice Terraces and Noto's Satoyama and Satoumi.
The training is modelled after Japan's Noto Satoyama Meister Training Program initiated by Kanazawa University in Noto Peninsula where young farmers were trained to look after agriculture heritage sites.
"We're confident that the mentored research work of young leaders in Ifugao will pave the way for sustainable development initiatives in their own communities and give direction to the next generation," said JICA Senior Representative Aya Kano.
Both Noto in Japan and the Ifugao Rice Terraces face similar challenges of engaging young farmers in sustainability initiatives of their respective agriculture heritage sites. Lack of young farmers and unabated tourism in Ifugao Rice Terraces, also a UNESCO heritage site, has become a challenge.
The knowledge exchange between trainees from Ifugao, Philippine universities and concerned governments both in Japan and the Philippines aims to strengthen development initiatives in these sites.
Already, Ifugao young leaders acquired knowledge on utilizing traditional rice varieties for rice wine, and baby food, organic chicken and swine farming, educating young children on traditional culture and environmental conservation. The training also helped establish a tourism guide association in the area, encouraged transmission of traditional culture (dance, cooking, rituals, etc), and strengthened policy making at the local government level.
Prof. Koji Nakamura, Project Manager of ISMTP said, "Now on its second phase, we hope that the program will help enhance the ISMTP management capacity of our counterparts in Ifugao, invigorate exchanges and mutual learning between Noto and Ifugao for the revitalization and sustainable development, and mainstream the concept of GIAHS."
The training program in Ifugao began in 2014 and has since involved 70 barangays around the rice terraces.
Graduates from Barangay Hungduan with local government officials and professors