Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) have wrapped up their agricultural and agrarian development cooperation in Mindanao after nine years of implementation.
On September 2, a project exit conference was held in General Santos City to celebrate the success of Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development Project (MinSAAD).
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.
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 P2.75 billion were implemented in target areas.
The project was said to have made an impact in farming communities in Mindanao after providing 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.
“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,” JICA Philippines Chief Representative Azukizawa Eigo said during the event.
“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 added.
Aside from Eigo, the virtual event was also attended by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko.
On site, DAR Secretary 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.
More than 65 percent of households in Mindanao are involved in agriculture, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Aside from the DAR, MinSAAD 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 Eigo.