17 Community Seed Banks Turned Over in South Cotabato and Ifugao

Locally known as "FOL", community seed banks in South Cotabato are usually made of bamboo since it is abundant in South Cotabato

One of the community seed banks, locally known as 'alang", turned over in Hingyon, Ifugao

Ribbon Cutting. (L-R) Virginia Agcopra, National Project Officer of UNFAO, Maria Rosario Lopez, Executive Director of JVOFI and Mr. Zaldy Artacho, Municipal Agriculture Officer of Lake Sebu

A space under the alang is provided for these paraphernalias to signify the concept of an Ifugao alang: Bulul- wooden statue depicting granary guardian, pinamahan - wooden box, Ifugao tabernacle, Buhi - jar for the wine to be stored, Pamahan - woodend bowl for the wine for rituals, Ta-ug - coconut glass or cup for wine, Attag - ground mat or carpet for ritual dayak-kot - segregated place for the glutinous rice grain intended for rice wine, Binengo - rice grain intended for seedling

Culture, conservation and sustainability, these words summarize the end goal of the construction of the community seed banks (CSB) in the provinces of South Cotabato and Ifugao. To press on towards this goal, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) and the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI) partnered to construct 17 seed banks in these communities.

In October 2018 the CSBs in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato were completed and were finally turned over to barangays Lamcade, Klubi, Lamfugon, Luhib and Tasiman.

“This is just a start.” According to Ms Virginia Agcopra, National Project Officer of the UN FAO, the CSBs are realization of the community’s dream and is just a start in conserving and sustaining the agro-biodiversity of the community. This was seconded by the Municipal Agriculture Officer, Mr. Zaldy Artacho who mentioned that in the 1980s there were 186 varieties of rice but now, they don’t have as much. He also encouraged the community not to neglect the traditional rice varieties since these were handed down from our ancestors. “Also, take care of it, so our children will know that we did something for them.” 

The CSBs will serve as storage of seeds, gene bank and source of planting materials. In a few years we hope that a lot of lives have progressed through the help of the CSB, there are less poverty and malnutrition because there is food security in the community.

Last November 2018, another 12 community seed banks were turned over in the municipalities of Hingyon and Hungduan, Ifugao.

This project is under the GCP/PHI/062/GFF Project “Dynamic Conservation and Sustainable Use of Agro-Biodiversity in Traditional Agro-Ecosystems in the Philippines”.