The government’s crusade in alleviating poverty in Mindanao has geared up as the Japanese government funded a P4.4-billion comprehensive package of support services project benefitting around 70,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in 216 barangays in Mindanao.
The project dubbed as Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (MINSAAD), funded under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), also aims to improve the living condition of more than 400,000 residents located in 12 settlement areas in Central, Northern and Southern Mindanao.
MINSAAD Director Nasser Musali said 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.
The comprehensive package of support services involved 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 institution.
The settlement areas covered by MINSAAD, with a population of 404,175, 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.
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 multi-sectoral cooperation,” he added.
For project implementation, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) serves as the lead executing agency while the Department of Works and Highways (DPWH), National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and other government agencies, as well as the local government units, are co-implementing agencies.
DAR Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan said that MINSSAD is complemented by a larger framework of support within the DAR, which is called the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS).
“Through ARCCESS the DAR provides professional agri-extension services, business development and enterprise to ARB organizations, accessible agricultural credit for all crops, grants common service facilities, land tenure stability in distributed lands such as the settlement areas and construction of rural infrastructures,” Pacturan said.
“The interventions of MINSAAD and the DAR’s ARCCESS 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,” Pacturan added.
Counselor Koichi Ibarra of the Japan Consular Office, for his part, said the JICA loan was 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 said.
Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) Secretary Lualhati Antonino said the the project supports the MINDA 2020 development project goals and the peace process in Mindanao.
“I am looking forward on MINSAAD as a partner in bringing Mindanao to economic progress,” Antonino said.