Human Resources Development Program aims to preserve rice terraces in the Philippines
Ifugao, a landlocked province on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, is home to many beautiful sights, including river valleys and huge forests. Among these sights are two-millennia-old terraces known officially as the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Banaue Rice Terraces. There is currently a struggle to preserve the rice terraces in the different municipalities that they run through and so, as Ifugao Governor Denis Habawel has observed, the recent introduction of a project with the lengthy but largely self-explanatory name of ‘Human Resources Development Program (HRDP) for the Sustainable Development of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Designated Site Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT)’ is timely.
Highly valuable rice terraces in Ifugao
The Ifugao Rice Terraces comprise of the only remaining highland mountain ecosystem in the Philippines and is especially valued for its demonstration of the ingenuity of ancient Ifugao civilisation and being an awe-inspiring agricultural farming system. Hence, the terraces are valuable both for the assistance that they provide to local workers and the attractions that they provide to tourists of the area. All of this helps to explain why the terraces have been designated a site of GIAHS; this organisation is concerned with promoting national and international recognition of agricultural heritage systems. However, Habawel said that effects of globalisation and modernisation meant that a new system or approach should be used for future sustaining of the rice terraces.
The main aims of this human resource development project
The ultimate long term aim of the human resource development project is to help to reactivate IRT local stakeholders, particularly young such stakeholders in the municipalities of Banaue, Hungduan and Mayoyao, through building the capacity in Ifugao to conserve the rice terraces. Through building this capacity, the project also aims to spread the word about GIAHS principles and concepts. The mayors of the sites through which the terraces run have emphasised: “Our respective LGUs are committed to support the program that would benefit our municipalities particularly in preserving the rice terraces and the cultural traditions”.
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