COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) extends assistance to 5,000 farming households in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.
“We are working closely with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM) to enable affected farmers to get back on their feet at the soonest possible opportunity. The restoration of livelihoods and agricultural production in a timely manner is a crucial first step to restoring food security in the area,” said FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernandez.
He added that to support the government in responding to farmers needs, the FAO allocated USD 470,000 to help the farming households resume the production of rice, corn and vegetables.
It can be noted that agriculture-dependent families in Maguindanao are still reeling from the residual impact of armed conflict; drought and flooding that affected the province in succession during the first half of 2015.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that crop and vegetable production losses in Maguindanao have reached more than 24,000 metric tons as a result of these natural and human-induced disasters.
“We were in an evacuation centre for about three months. This displacement had a huge effect on us farmers. We had to leave our farms and backyard gardens. Our crops were destroyed by drought. We were not able to sell most of our livestock as they died either of hunger or disease,” recalled Tuka Sumalay, a farmer from Tapikan, Shariff Aguak.
Sumalay is one of more than 125 000 people uprooted across the 15 municipalities of Maguindanao where hostilities broke out between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the government in February.
The organization will distribute a total of 1,410 sacks of rice seeds, 3, 590 sacks of corn seeds, as well as vegetable seeds, fertilizer and hand tools as well as conduct workshops and training activities.