COTABATO CITY: The government recently released a P500-million agricultural grant for farmers and fishermen in conflict-ridden areas in Mindanao.
This is projected to increase agricultural produce in the area and help reduce the incidence of poverty.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)’s Bureau of Public Information director Amir Mawallil said the aid was given during the recent launch of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda (CRDA) by President Rodrigo Duterte here.
Mawallil added that the assistance will benefit the farmers and fishermen-beneficiaries in the ARMM and other conflict-ridden areas in Regions 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) and Region 12 (Central Mindanao).
The President has vowed to end hunger in Mindanao and develop the island. “I want the incidence of hunger stopped,” he said.
The President promised to pour more development programs into the poverty-stricken regions. “Give me time, I will improve the Moroland.” Duterte said.
Lawyer Bai Ranibai Dilangalen, Department of Agriculture (DA) undersecretary for special concerns, said the assistance would be a big step forward in improving agricultural production, and in decreasing the poverty incidence in the target regions.
She added that the assistance from DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) was pegged at approximately P306 million, apart from the funds of the two agencies’ regular programs.
Meanwhile, Regional Secretary Alexander Alonto of the ARMM’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) said, “These will increase the volume of agricultural production in the ARMM and would alleviate poverty of farmers and fisherfolk at the same time.”
The assistance from the DA headed by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and BFAR under Undersecretary for Fisheries Eduardo Gongona include farm equipment, post-harvest facilities, machinery, farm and agri-aquatic inputs such as certified rice seeds, corn seeds, motorized banca and fishing paraphernalia.
A new project of the DA, Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), will allow the DA to look at the weak points of each identified poor province as priority areas, and determine its key potentials in food production and agricultural livelihood programs.
In the ARMM, Maguindanao was given P50-million aid which was received by Gov. Esmail Mangudadatu.
The provinces of Sarangani and North Cotabato also received P50 million each for the same project.
Dilangalen noted that additional P100 million for the three provinces will be allocated for the same project in 2017, and more provinces will be included.
Another P192 million worth of agri-assistance was also distributed under the socio-economic development component of the Normalization Fund.
For the ARMM alone, approximately P144 million was allotted this year and the remaining P48 million was allocated for the other three regions.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL