"Strategy to ensure sustainable management of the upland resource base and improve the living standards of the communities who derive most of their income from upland farming."
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SUSTAINABLE UPLAND DEVELOPMENT
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Diversified farming system

  • High production and income for farmers and more revenues to the local government units.
  • Minimized land degradation and environmental destruction by promoting environmental awareness through extension messages.
  • Extension network promotes civic mindedness and self-help among extension workers.  

The Upland Development Programme in Southern Mindanao (UDP) is a special project executed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) jointly funded by the Government of the Philippines (GoP) and the European Union (EU). UDP is a seven-year programme established on 20 October 1998.

The uplands, directly linked with the lowland and coastal zones, are an integral part of the ecological system and must be conserved for the survival and development of the Philippines. Their destruction will result in decreasing production and revenue in the prime lowland ecological zones. Furthermore, undeveloped uplands in the Philippines area locale of destabilizing forces against peace and security (Castillo 1994).


The uplands in general, face huge development challenges due to the magnitude of destruction from its original state. Since this destruction has to be more or less equated with ameliorative efforts, a historical account of what has happened in the uplands should be considered.


Fifty years ago, the uplands were covered with primary forests and inhabited by Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Upland areas were still fully intact and very rich in bio-diversity. Inasmuch as environment conditions in the uplands are directly linked to those in the lowlands and coastal areas, the lowland environment was sound and coastal areas, with productive coral reefs and mangroves, carried abundant fish resources.


One reason for the upland destruction is the indiscriminate legal and illegal logging in the past. In addition, population pressure has forced lowlanders to occupy areas already cleared through logging and encouraged unsustainable farming there. Another reason may have been the taking over by the large agribusiness concerns of vast tracts of gently sloping lowland plantations, forcing many poor communities with no other option than to expand cultivation onto steep to very steep slopes. The inhabitants practiced the slash and burn farming and applying lowland technologies not suited to the steep uplands. This has resulted in severe soil erosion, low productivity and therefore very low income and quality of life.


The massive soil erosion has also resulted in extreme “poverty” in terms of bio-diversity in the uplands. And what happens in the uplands has a direct effect on the lowlands. Lowland dwellers, farmers and fishermen, have suffered badly due to the damaging effects of severe floods and siltation which have occurred as a result of this erosion.


The uplands, including natural parks, are currently almost all inhabited and used as farmlands with little regard to prevention of damage. The situation is very serious particularly to immediate stakeholders - the people and the local leaders – who should agree on and enforce appropriate upland land use, institute the practice of sustainable agriculture, reforest suitable areas, and protect remaining patches of forest. The critical issue however, is how to mobilize resources and build capabilities to make the upland farmers protect their land and generate sufficient income.


In response, the Upland Development Programme in Southern Mindanao (UDP) has developed and tested a model for sustainable upland development. The Government of the Philippines, with financial support and technical assistance from the European Commission, implements it. Within seven years of implementation, it has produced tangible results in the field recognized by the upland farmers, development practitioners and local government officials.


The model could be applied in any upland barangay in the country where rampant and unsustainable agriculture is still ongoing. The UDP follows a modeling approach covering 38 municipalities in the 6 provinces of Southern Mindanao. The model is designed in such a way that it can be replicated through local initiatives and resources if stakeholders, particularly, the concerned Local Government Units (LGUs) are willing to give a fair share of their resources and commitment to ensure Sustainable Upland Development.