Helping People Help Themselves
The Good Roots Agroforestry Research and Development in the Philippines
Ben J. Wallace
Good Roots - ungat ng buhay - is a multi-year environmental reclamation and agroforestry research and development project that was established in 1992, and is presently on going. It is one of the few examples where the academy, industry, and government cooperate to benefit local communities and environments. In the words of a recent Asia Foundation Review Team (2006), the Good Roots Project, "...is a simple, focused and phenomenally successful agriculture extension program with environmental benefits."
Since its inception in Ilocos Norte, and the move to Batangas, La Union, and Benguet, the Good Roots Project has conducted research on the sociocultural and environmental factors associated with deforestation, and germinated, nurtured, and planted over a half million primary and secondary forest trees, and directly impacted and provided livelihood opportunities (especially in the agroforestry arena) to over a thousand rural households. Perhaps more important are the thousands of farm families who have indirectly benefited from the development activities of Good Roots by observing the successes of Good Roots participants.
An underlying premise of Good Roots is that in matters of community development and environment reclamation, success is attained only when Good Roots is no longer needed by the community, i.e., the highest compliment that can be paid to Good Roots is when it works itself out of a job. That will occur in its present location in 2009. Plans are already being made to start another Good Roots Project in another region of the Philippines.