The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) have finally concluded a nine-year project that supported farming communities in most conflict areas in Mindanao that were lacking vital rural infrastructure and capacity-building measures to make their livelihood sustainable.
Implemented in 2012, the Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development Project (MinSAAD) has reached completion 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.
An estimated P2.75 billion were spent in implementing sub-projects composed of farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation facilities, post-harvest facilities, water system and agribusiness and agroforestry in target areas under MinSAAD.
A project exit conference was held in General Santos City on Sept. 2 to celebrate the success of MinSAAD.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko and JICA Philippines Chief Representative Azukizawa Eigo joined the virtual exit conference for the MinSAAD project while DAR Secretary John Castriciones led the onsite event along with the mayors of the municipalities covered by the project, representatives from partner agencies, and farmer-beneficiaries.
In his remarks, Azukizawa said JICA, for many years, 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,” he said.
Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), more than 65 percent of households in Mindanao are involved in agriculture.
“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,” said Doming Florentino, one of the beneficiaries of the three irrigation projects in the Kadingilan Settlement Area in Bukidnon.