The Philippine government, with the help of the government of Japan, has allotted P4.4 billion for agricultural development programs in Mindanao, boosting efforts in alleviating poverty and helping achieve peace in the region.
Dubbed as the “Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (Minsaad),” the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) aims to push for the development of a comprehensive package of support services that would benefit more than 70,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) in 216 barangays in Mindanao.
Minsaad Director Nasser Musali explained that the project is funded by a P3.3-billion JICA loan complemented with P1.1-billion counterpart fund from the Philippine government.
“The project is a colossal challenge and it requires interagency and multisectoral cooperation,” Musali said, adding that the program aims to improve the living condition of more than 400,000 residents located in 12 settlement areas in Central, Northern and Southern Mindanao.
Musali said that the project is designed to increase agricultural productivity, product value and income of agrarian reform beneficiaries and other small-scale farmers, through provision of agricultural infrastructures and other capacity-building support.
He said that the comprehensive package of support services involve the construction of farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigations and potable water systems, among others, as well as providing technical assistance and linking the farmers with financing institutions.
The areas covered by Minsaad include the B’laan Settlement Reservation Area, Bukidnon Settlement Area Project, Karagan Valley Settlement, Lanao del Norte Resettlement Area 1, Lanao del Norte Resettlement Area 2, Lanao del Norte Resettlement Area 3, North Cotabato Resettlement Area 1, North Cotabato Resettlement Area 2, South Cotabato Resettlement Area 1, Sultan Kudarat Resettlement Area 1, Sultan Kudarat Resettlement Area 1-2 and Sultan Kudarat Resettlement Area 2.
The Minsaad covered areas have a population of 404,175.
For project implementation, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) serves as the lead executing agency, while the Department of Public Works and Highways, National Irrigation Administration, and other government agencies, as well as the local government units, are co-implementing agencies.
DAR Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan said that a larger framework of support within the agency, which is called the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (Arccess), complements Minsaad.
“Through Arccess, the DAR provides professional agri-extension services, business development and enterprise to ARB organizations and accessible agricultural credit for all crops, grants common service facilities, and ensures land tenure stability in distributed lands such as the settlement areas and the construction of rural infrastructure,” Pacturan said.
“The interventions of Minsaad and the DAR’s Arccess program would definitely play an important role in the current administration’s focus on food security, rural household incomes, peace and stability, sustainable rural development and improved basic social services,” he added.
For his part, Counselor Koichi Ibarra of the Japan Consular Office said that the JICA loan is part of his country’s efforts to contribute to the success of agrarian reform in the Philippines.
“I believe that the success of agriculture is the foundation of stability in this country,” he added.
Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) Secretary Lualhati Antonino said that the project supports the Minda 2020 development project goals and the peace process in Mindanao.