THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is extending ¥4.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for developing the agriculture sector in Mindanao.
The money from the JICA yen loan scheme has been allocated under the project called “Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation” or Harvest.
Launched this week, the project is meant to support farmers’ cooperatives, agriculture enterprises and related groups in Mindanao.
“Harvest presents opportunities to help ordinary Filipino farmers in Mindanao and related institutions grow the agriculture sector. Through the project’s financial inclusion of farmers’ cooperatives, micro, small and medium enterprises and related organizations, more investments and jobs will be created in Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas,” JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito said.
An estimated 61 percent of Mindanao’s regional economy is accounted for by agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The sector employed 68.4 percent of the regional population in the same period.
However, decades of conflict affected the region’s rise from poverty, where more than 50 percent of the people are poverty-stricken —making Mindanao one of the poorest regions in the country.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014, paved the way for promoting agro industry to create jobs and help develop in the region.
Under Harvest, the Japanese aid agency is also providing the LandBank as well as agriculture cooperatives and relevant institutions the necessary training and technical assistance in human resource.
Since 2002, JICA has been proving ODA to Mindanao under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development. It has implemented over 30 projects in the region. From 2003 to 2015, JICA and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs have extended ¥20 billion of development aid.