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Indigenous peoples (IPs) of barangays Ekip and Karao in Bokod, covered by the Upper Agno Watershed Reservation (UAWR) were trained on mushroom production as a means of livelihood to uplift their economic status while engaging them to take part in environmental/forest protection.

In coordination with Benguet State University Mushroom Project, the Watershed Department of the National Power Corporation through the Upper Agno River Watershed Area Team (UARWAT) held the 2nd Training Course on Mushroom Production on February 14 and 15 at La Trinidad, Benguet.

Twenty- five IP participants from the said Indigenous Cultural Communities benefitted from the two- day training. They were introduced to the growing bag cultivation technology for Oyster Mushroom developed in BSU- College of Agriculture by its researchers and plant pathologists namely Dr. Janet S. Luis, among others.

According to Forester Onofre S. Castro, UARWAT Section Chief, the Oyster mushroom cultivation in growing bags and in other indigenous waste materials is a friendlier technology compared to Shiitake cultivation in oak and alnus trunks.

We hope that our participants shall apply the knowledge gained, be local entrepreneurs and grow their own mushroom business to alleviate poverty and to create job opportunities among their fellows and neighbors, he added.

Throughout the training, the IPs were given series of module lectures from bagging of substrate to packaging of the mushroom fruits. Return demonstrations and hands on exercises from mixing of substrate to planting spawn followed facilitated by Jumarlyn A. Compra and Paterno F. Uyod Jr., BSU Mushroom Project staff and assisting instructors.

Mushrooms are in demand in the market because it is considered to be food for the gods bannering its excellent taste, nutrition and medication purposes. Thus, it boost health and makes good income to growers, stressed Compra.

Our team continues to empower Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) as our valued partners in managing, rehabilitating and protecting the watershed by providing them capacity and livelihood trainings, said Josephine F. Tayoco, UARWAT Community Relation Officers on IP Program.

We believe that investing on IPs shall stir community development and empowerment. We are confident in their commitment that they will embrace such alternative livelihood as we encouraged them to do away from illegal activities which destroy their own forests, said Rhe-Ann B. Ngayaan, UARWAT CRO- Bantay Watershed Task Force Program.