September 6, 2021
As farming communities continue to face challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, a development cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is making an impact through agriculture support to farmers in places where rural infrastructure and capacity building are needed.
Aside from conflict, some of these farming communities lack access to transport their goods to nearby markets, and are also in need of trainings to become more competitive and make their livelihood sustainable.
The cooperation Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development Project or MinSAAD was implemented in 2012 and completed this year, with 280 sub-projects implemented in 12 settlement areas in Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Compostela Valley (now Davao de Oro), Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.
A project exit conference was held in General Santos City on September 2, 2021 to celebrate the success of MinSAAD. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines KOSHIKAWA Kazuhiko and JICA Philippines Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo joined the event online. On site, DAR Secretary Atty. John Castriciones led the event along with officials of DAR Central, Regional, and Provincial Offices, mayors of the municipalities covered by the project, representatives from partner agencies, and farmer beneficiaries.
Ambassador KOSHIKAWA, Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA, and DAR Secretary Castriciones with distinguished guests during the MinSAAD Project Exit Conference, September 2.
"For many years now, JICA has been actively extending support to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) and farmers who need access to markets, and assistance in adding value to their production. We appreciate the support of our partner government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in implementing this project as joint efforts in addressing food security and promoting resiliency of the agriculture sector," said JICA Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA during his virtual speech in the event.
More than 65% of households in Mindanao is involved in agriculture, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Under MinSAAD, sub-projects composed of farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation facilities, post-harvest facilities, water system, and agribusiness and agroforestry support amounting to 2.75 billion pesos were implemented in target areas.
In the Kadingilan Settlement Area in Bukidnon where three irrigation subprojects were provided, Mr. Doming Florentino, the chairperson of one of the beneficiary irrigator's associations, said, "It will be easier for many farmers to have access to irrigation water. We are confident that more farmers will be encouraged to return to rice farming."
Aside from the DAR, the project was co-implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the LGUs in the settlement areas. "We hope our partners in government will continue to sustain the gains from the project and help the beneficiaries maintain the infrastructure so the ARBs and farmers can be relieved from poverty and overcome the challenges from this pandemic," added Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA.
Irrigation canal of the Libertad (L) and Macadiz (R) Irrigation Projects in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat
Masiag-Kanulay Farm-to-Market Road in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat (L) and Agribusiness Development training conducted in Digos City, Davao del Sur (R).