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Filipino children will learn about the vital link between a healthy forest cover and a steady food supply through a program of the Food and Agriculture (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said on Thursday.

Dubbed “Forests for a Sustainable Future: Educating Children”, Duterte said the program would “create opportunities” for her department and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to work with FAO on sustainable forest management.

“In the Department of Education (DepEd), we have so many agricultural and fishery high schools that are underutilized with regard to the properties that they own,” Duterte said during a courtesy call of Dr. Lionel Dabbadie, UN’s FAO country representative.

She mentioned visiting a school in Leyte with around six hectares of land area, however, has only one to three hectares planted with vegetables due to fund constraints.

But with the “forest for sustainable future” project, she added learners may be educated on the sustainable management of forests, food production, and food security, among others.

“Through interactive learning approaches and the development of strategic education modules, the project will equip younger generations with the necessary skills and knowledge to address current food production, distribution, and nutrition challenges,” Duterte said.


Halal industry for tourism

Duterte, meanwhile, also expressed the need to boost Halal (Islamic-approved food and products) industries that can improve the country’s objective to become more “Muslim community-friendly.”

This was after separate courtesy calls from Malaysian Ambassador Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino and Brunei Darussalam Ambassador Megawati Manan.

“With regard to the Halal industry, yes, I agree with you. When I was mayor of Davao City, one of our bigger projects was about tourism. And we were missing out a segment of tourists because there’s much [of them who asked] how strong is the halal industry,” Duterte told Megawati.

The Malaysian envoy, meanwhile, said exploring halal cosmetics is also worthy of consideration.

Besides the strengthening of the halal industry, the two ambassadors also discussed the desire to intensify partnerships for trade, culture, defense, and education.

To date, Duterte serves as the current president of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO).

She has earlier expressed plans to visit SEAMEO member states to explore quality education developments in Southeast Asia. (PNA)