DAVAO CITY—As SM celebrates its 60th anniversary, SM Foundation launches “60,000 Trees: The AweSM Tree Count,” an initiative that follows through the Grow A Million Trees campaign of SM. The project supports the government’s Enhanced National Greening Program.
In partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, SM employee volunteers came together with the aim to plant 60,000 trees all over the country.
Simultaneous tree-planting activities were held in five locations―Batangas, Davao, Iloilo, Olongapo, and Pampanga. The 60,000 trees campaign will run for five years.
In Davao City, SM collaborates with a new community in Upper Kibalang, Marilog, Davao City, the Upper Kibalang Agro-Forestry Farmers Association, Inc. (UKAFFAI).
The group of over a hundred farmer members, organized in 1994, operates with guidance from the government’s integrated social forestry directions, giving them authority to develop, guard, and rehabilitate their area which was once exploited by loggers.
Together with SM, UKAFFAI will be instrumental in greening Davao City, one fruit-bearing plant at a time.
SM employee volunteers from SM Lanang Premier, SM City Davao, SM Park Inn by Radisson Davao, Toy Kingdom, The SM Store, Ace Hardware, Surplus, and SM Supermarket, along with SM scholars, planted trees last Sept. 23.
The campaign aims to grow a total of 12,000 trees in Davao City.
In 2013, SM Foundation collaborated with a group of farmers in Suawan, Marilog, Davao City as part of its greening efforts through the Grow A Million Trees project. The project covered 20 hectares of land and touched the lives of upland residents.
Providing and growing cacao and rubber tree seedlings did not only give 20 families of farmers a better way of life and education for their children―these created sustainable farming livelihood for years to come.
One of the farmers who benefitted from the SM tree-planting project is Maximino Gumop-as, a father of eight. The land that he owns and manages is now home to 2,000 cacao trees and 50 rubber trees.
He has experienced two years of year-round harvest, peaking from September to December, since 2014. He reaps as much as 50 kilos of dry cacao beans every harvest season.
He says that a nearby buy-and-sell market keeps his livelihood going, with good rates of as much as P120 per kilo.
Gumop-as said that planting cacao changed the way he and his colleagues in Kibangay Unified Farmers Association view farming for a living.
The chairman of the group said that sustainability was a gift that they all welcomed. “Farming was tedious and challenging when we did corn back in the day,” Gumop-as says. With cacao, he says, there is rhythm production.
“I am now motivated to plant more and keep harvesting,” he says. “I can focus on farming as a livelihood and provide for my family. SM’s support is a breakthrough for us because I can now send my children to college. Back in the day, I could only afford elementary education.”
Gumop-as’ story is just one of the many of how SM’s environmental efforts create ripples in farmer’s lives.