Italy Extends P2.5-B Assistance To Muslim Agrarian Reform Communities

pic1july30Some 53,000 farming families are recipients of the P2.5 billion assistance from the Italian government to develop poverty-stricken rural communities in Mindanao.

The Italian assistance is under the Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Programme (IARCDSP) in Mindanao, which began in February 2013, after a memorandum of agreement was signed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Italian government.

“Beneficiaries of the program include 27,613 families in 35 agrarian reform communities (ARCs) and another 25,613 families who are not agrarian reform beneficiaries but will likewise benefit from this program,” explained DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes.

Last year, the Italian and Philippine governments agreed to fund IARCDSP with a soft loan of P1.57 billion from the Italian government and a technical grant of P81.03 million, which includes the services of Italian technical experts, an engineer, a microfinance specialist, and seven consultants. The Philippine government has allotted a P866.3 million counterpart fund for the programme.pic2july30

The IARCDSP, whose beneficiaries are made up of farmers, fisher folks, and indigenous people is being implemented in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sarangani, Cotabato and General Santos.

The projects included in the poverty alleviation program are to instill entrepreneurial skills, create 50 strong farmers organizations, provide farm equipment and build various infrastructure (roads, irrigation, bridges, etc.) for the beneficiaries’ and the communities’ development.

This joint Philippine-Italian poverty alleviation program is part of the European Union’s efforts to strengthen the peace settlement of the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“This joint Italian-Philippine poverty alleviation programme will contribute in intensifying the peace process in Mindanao particularly in the aftermath of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014, after 17 years of peace talks that began in 1997,” Italian Embassy’s first secretary and deputy of mission Alfonso Tagliaferri said in a statement that described the project extensively.