Cotabato City (July 9, 2015) – Five thousand farmers in conflict-affected communities as well as those who absorbed losses due to the dry spell in Maguindanao and North Cotabato are set to receive agricultural assistance starting July 15.Makmod Mending, secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM), and Jose Luis Fernandez, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) country representative, inked on Wednesday, July 8, a P21-million project to help pre-identified farmers restore their livelihood by providing them agricultural inputs and productive assets lost or damaged during the crisis that lasted weeks after the Mamasapano encounter in late January as well as from the recent drought.“This is our way of helping our people who were affected by the armed conflict, and this response is going to address the needs of 5,000 affected families in the ARMM, as well as in North Cotabato,” Sec. Mending said. While Maguindanao is part of ARMM, North Cotabato is part of Central Mindanao, or Soccsksargen, region.
The ARMM agriculture secretary added that the farmers who would receive assistance are from 16 towns in Maguindanao and from Pikit town in North Cotabato. These farmers were either affected by intensified law enforcement operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or suffered losses from the impact of the recent dry spell.
The region’s Humanitarian and Emergency Action Response Team (ARMM-HEART) reported that 125,000 were displaced during the law enforcement operations. Fernandez said the FAO-backed project will benefit 1,410 rice farmers and 3,590 corn farmers.
The target beneficiaries will receive agricultural inputs such as high quality rice, corn, and vegetable seeds; fertilizers; and hand tools. The FAO official also added the farmers would be trained on specific technologies and approaches in crop production and natural resources management.
Last May 22, DAF-ARMM also distributed 2,461 sacks of hybrid rice to farmers in Maguindanao. Sec. Mending said the hybrid rice seeds assistance helped the farmers cope with the damage exacted by the dry spell as their latest yields double compared with common rice seeds.
ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia witnessed the ceremonial project signing at the Bajau Hall, Office of the Bangsamoro People this city. “This project is very timely and will be very beneficial to target farmers,” Alamia said. (Bureau of Public Information)