February 27, 2024

City Veterinary and Agriculture Office employees decried the destruction of the coffee saplings and grown trees they had planted and nurtured in the last five years at a park they adopted and envisioned as a coffee tree park at Lualhati barangay.

Agriculturist II Marcelina Tabelin said they were distraught when they found on June 9 that more than half of the saplings and trees planted in the area were either uprooted or cut down.

“We were excited to harvest the fruit of our labor because du-ring our last monitoring, some of the coffee trees were already bearing fruit.  Instead, we were disappointed when we witnessed that majority of fruit-bearing certified Arabica coffee trees were uprooted, cut and broken,” Tabelin said.

She said the seedlings they planted in tranches since 2018 were certified and registered by the Bureau of Plant Industry and thus were future sources of quality planting materials.

She recounted that the CVAO in partnership with the Highly Urbanized City Agriculture and Fishery Council and farmer associations volunteered to adopt the park near Wright Park as part of their office’s commitment to promote regreening and reforestation to counteract the impacts of climate change.

“In 2018, we deci-ded to integrate agroforestation and planted cash crop instead of trees like caliandra and others.  We envision to having a coffee tree park at the heart of the city that will serve as coffee techno demo and laboratory of learning for the youth and 4H (head, heart, hands, health) Club,” Tabelin said.

Every year since then, they planted 200 seedlings except last year when they shifted to maintenance, cleanup, and application of slow-release fertilizer and composted cow manure to boost the growth of the tree saplings.

On June 9, she said they conducted a cleanup drive and planned to conduct a hands-on training on coffee bending and pruning at the site and then were welcomed by the sad sight.

“Our office and the entire agriculture sector will not tolerate this unjust behavior. We will elevate this to authorities for disciplinary action,” Tabelin said.

She said they have filed a complaint with the Baguio City Police Office and the barangay under Punong Barangay Julius Ampal.  The authorities promised to get to the bottom of the incident and punish the perpetrators. – Aileen P. Refuerzo