MANILA, Philippines — The Japanese government has concluded its six billion yen loan fund for the development of the agriculture sector in Mindanao.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan’s bilateral aid agency, and the Department of Agrarian Reform have completed the Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (MinSAAD) project which lasted for nine years.
The project, which started in 2012, focused on farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation facilities, post-harvest infrastructure, rural water supply and agricultural capacity building support.
It had 280 sub-projects in 12 settlement areas in Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
The project benefitted almost 70,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) which are expected to be the model of small-scale farmers’ empowerment and sustainable development in the agricultural sector.
More than 65 percent of households in Mindanao are involved in agriculture.
JICA has been actively extending support to ARBs and farmers who need access to markets and assistance in adding value to their production.
JICA chief representative Eigo Azukizawa said partner government agencies and local government units were important in the joint effort of addressing food security and promoting resiliency of the agriculture sector.
Irrigators associations also said the projects would encourage more farmers to return to rice farming.
Aside from the DAR, the project was co-implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the National Irrigation Administration, 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,” Azukizawa said.