SEEDLING MASTER. Benjie Fruta, 38, poses with his seedlings with Jean Litang, a community development coordinator of Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) based in Barangay Valencia, Cagdianao, Dinagat Island province. Benjie earned more than PHP300,000 in 2020 under a program that pays community members to produce seedlings for CMC's greening program. (Contributed Photo)

VALENCIA, Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands--At least 195 farmers have benefited from the rehabilitation and reforestation program of the Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) based in this town, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Dubbed as "ECOmmunity Program,” the initiative has paid up some PHP4.4 million to 71 contractors and 124 sub-contractors, who are tasked with producing seedlings to support the CMC's reforestation initiatives.

Since its launching in 2019, the program has generated over a million seedlings, said Nathalie Radaza, CMC’s Community Output-Based Program coordinator.

Benjie Fruta, 38, one of the program participants, managed to earn over PHPP326,000 last year by producing 37,000 seedlings.

“I was able to build my own house from my earnings. The ECOcommunity program has really been a blessing for us,” Fruta said in the dialect.

He said he managed to produce a lot of seedlings by hiring subcontractors, mostly neighbors and family members. He and his helpers grew his own seedlings for three months at his own nursery at home.

Radaza noted that the program "hits two birds in one stone," uplifting the lives of beneficiaries while raising awareness about environmental protection and conservation.

“Involving the communities in CMC’s greening programs is so heart-warming and so satisfying to hear personal stories of how the company is helping members of the mining communities become financially independent,” he said.

CMC's nickel mine is located on the northeastern side of Dinagat Islands province. Its area of operations is within the Surigao Mineral Reservation. (PR)