THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is turning Boracay Island into an agro-tourism site by pouring millions worth of interventions and facilities, which are expected to be operational when the area reopens to visitors in October.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said members of the Ati tribe, including farmers and fishermen, received a “bonanza” of government support, and this is expected to help them earn more income.
Piñol, who was in Boracay on June 27, said they provided P1.950 million in loans to farmers and fishermen in distress, 10 fiberglass boats, and vegetable farming tools and seeds to be planted on a portion of the 2.1-hectare ancestral domain area of the Ati tribe in Barangay Manok-manok.
The DA also pledged to establish a solar-powered greenhouse, an organic restaurant, tribal vacation cottages made of indigenous building materials and a solar-powered irrigation system in the area, according to Piñol. All of these establishments could be operated and handled by the members of the Ati tribe.
“The other projects which were proposed by the DA and accepted by the Ati tribal people like the Tribal Organic Restaurant, Tribal Cottages, Solar-Powered Smart Greenhouse and the Solar-Powered Irrigation System will soon start construction with funds coming from both the private sector and government,” he said in a post in his official Facebook page on June 28.
“Our target is to operate these facilities in time for the reopening of Boracay Island on October 26 this year,” he added.
The agriculture chief also discovered that local fishermen are left at the mercy of resort owners who determine whether they will be allowed to unload their catch on resort beachfronts.
“Upon hearing the complaint, I assured the fishermen that their complaint will be brought to the attention of President Rody Duterte through DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] Secretary Roy Cimatu,” Piñol said in his Facebook page published on June 27.
“I will ask President Duterte to direct DENR to allocate an area where the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will build a fish landing complete with an ice flakes-making equipment,” he added.
Piñol said the DENR, with the endorsement of local government units, could award the stewardship of the beachfronts under a Foreshore Lease Agreement.
Beachfronts in Boracay are often regarded as part of resort owners’ private property despite a provision in law stating they “cannot be owned by any individual and following the 25-meter easement from the shore, no structures could be built,” according to Piñol.