DIARIES FROM THE FIELD | Educational exhange to Japan to save the Ifugao Rice Terraces


From October 21-27, 2018, the Ifugao delegation composed of the Ifugao State University (IFSU), Ifugao Satoyama Meister Trainees and two local chief executives of Mayoyao and Hungduan, Ifugao travelled to the Noto Region of Ishikawa, Japan for the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) educational exchange.

The educational exchange provided opportunities to learn and benchmark adaptive management and sustainable practices for the conservation of biodiversity, governance and education. The whole trip was a wake-up call and firming up of commitment for the conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT) and sustainable development.

Led by IFSU President, Dr. Eva Marie Codamon-Dugyon, the Ifugao delegation visited different biodiversity conservation sites and sustainable practices in different areas of the Noto Region, a GIAHS designated in Ishikawa for its Satoyama and Satoumi practices. Each area visited in the Noto Region tell a rich story of deep connection and relationship between communities and their Satoyama and Satoumi landscapes.

Starting from the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History to the Sake Rice Maker, Kirimoto Wooden Craft Workshop, Senmaida 1000 Rice Paddies and the Biodiversity Friendly Paddies, the visits revealed similar problems experienced by the Ifugao and Noto GIAHS Sites. Among these shared problems are outmigration and exodus of young people to the urban areas, aging population, and climate change.

The meeting and immersion also with local farmers and community folks in these areas, the delegation were amazed on how these communities took a higher level of awareness and understanding of the biodiversity and their environment. For them, conservation of their biodiversity is a way of life. According to them, every tree, bird and flowers have meaning and purpose in their everyday life.

As the educational exchange ended, the whole delegation realized the immense challenge on how to put the learnings from their Japanese counterparts into concrete actions in the GIAHS communities in Ifugao.

During the exit conference, the 14 Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program (ISMTP) trainees and an alumni re-affirmed their commitment towards the conservation of the IRT as a source of food and the continuity of the cultural identity for the Ifugaos. The trainees further committed to finish their Satoyama Projects as concrete contributions in the IRT. Among the projects of the ISMTP trainees include hydroponics in the rice terraces, occupational health of farmers, early indigenous warning devices, ethno medicinal, contextualization of teaching IRT, butterfly sanctuary, traditional weaving and blacksmith.

The IRT is designated as a World Heritage and GIAHS Sites by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture in 1995 and 2007.

The educational exchange was funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.# nordis.net


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