Tree planting for keeps

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CHIT JUAN

CHIT JUAN

I often see tree planting activities as a company’s way of doing corporate social responsibility (CSR) or a company’s way to wash away sins of cutting down trees or having to throw waste into landfills in the course of business.

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But what really happens to these trees? A friend reached out to me because he paid a company to plant coffee trees and they, after inspection, saw the seedlings still in their plastic bags and not in the ground where they should be.

This same thing happens when LGUs or government agencies give away planting materials. Many of these donated seedlings and precious plants remain unplanted because it did not cost the farmer anything. Charge the farmer for each seedling and he will care for it.

This is why we must take the bull by the horns and study the planting of trees, and make someone responsible for it. Maybe we should have rules about these activities so as not to waste the seeds, seedlings or even the fertilizers usually given with the seeds.

When you ask for trees to be planted the following should also be observed:

1. Match the tree with the soil in the area. Coffee grows in sandy loam soil. Not craggy soil. Coconut can grow near salt water and sand.

2. Watch them dig the proper holes. Also, space out the holes so roots and leaves do not touch each other as the trees mature. For example, with coffee a desired space is 2 meters by 3 meters between trees.

3. Have a budget for maintenance of the trees. The trees need weeding, too. Or pruning in the case of coffee. You cannot just plant and leave it alone. Vines could suffocate trees and prevent them from fruiting well.

4. Watch your trees grow. Inspect them periodically and see how they actually survive in these days of climate change (typhoons and drought included).

For your next tree planning activity, see the experts. If it’s coffee you want, we have the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. If it’s Cacao, there are groups like Options Inc. which undertakes cacao and coffee projects. Options just finished a coffee/cacao demo farm in Bicol.

What do you plant in between trees? Well, there are companion crops that experts will enumerate for you. Do you need to register planting materials? Not necessary unless you are using government funds to plant the seedlings. Then you may have to go through the rigorous accreditation process for being a certified seed supplier.

For all other big companies undertaking CSR or community work by planting trees, take a look at coffee and cacao. We need to plant one million trees to address our shortage in production. In cacao, we need to fill 15,000 Metric Tons of demand we still lack. Both coffee and cacao have high demands but low volume of productio.

So, with coffee and cacao, you help the planet and also help the farmers increase their production of much-needed coffee and cacao for drinks, chocolates and even cocoa butter.

Plant trees and reap a harvest , too. Next time you need to plant trees, do it well.

And do the Earth and your company a favor.

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao and Cebu City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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