Ifugao Rice Terraces in critical stage of deterioration: UN food agency

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2019 09:36 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2019 01:31 AM

Photo shows an eroded part of the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao province. Erosion is a big problem for farmers working on the famed Rice Terraces. File

MANILA - The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao is in "a very critical stage of deterioration" despite being "self-sufficient in food, timber and water," the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said in an undated report.

The Rice Terraces' current situation, according to FAO, "prohibits the local communities to overcome the poverty line."

"The rice terraces provide multiple goods and services in terms of food security and sovereignty, income generation and quality nutrition. However, agricultural activities seem not enough to ensure their livelihood security," FAO said.

According to the UN agency, Ifugao is the fourth poorest province in the country, "having the highest poverty incidence in the Cordillera Administrative Region."

Environmental degradation, unregulated development and neglect are among factors that are threatening the continued survival of the terraces, FAO said.

Often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Rice Terraces covers 1,670 hectares of agricultural land. 

Recent data, however, revealed that a total of 600 hectares have been abandoned and need to be restored. 

In 1995, UNESCO included the Rice Terraces on its list of World Heritage Sites, with the likes of Angkor Wat, Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, among others.