KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 February) — The Japanese government has allocated P17 million to boost agricultural practices of indigenous peoples in Mindanao, the Japanese embassy said in a statement.
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe signed early this week the grant contract for the “Construction of Small-Scale Agriculture Facilities for Climate Change Adaptation” with Oxfam Japan.
The project, amounting to US$ 399,263 (approximately 17 million pesos), is funded through the grant assistance for Japanese Non-Government Organization Projects, a small-grant funding program of Japan’s Official Development Assistance.
Oxfam Japan will implement the project in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat and Balabagan in Lanao del Sur, which have witnessed harvest reductions of agricultural products in the past 15 years due to unusual weather conditions, the statement said.
Esperanza’s major produce includes rice and corn, which should be dried to fetch higher prices. But due to lack of post harvest facilities, they often use the road for drying crops, it noted.
In addition, there are limited concrete irrigation canals in the municipality. If the canal is not concreted, water is absorbed in the soil and the number of farmers who can utilize water can be limited.
To abate these difficulties, three post harvest facilities with a set of storehouse and dryer will be constructed in the municipality. A major irrigation canal stretching about one kilometer will be also concreted.
In Balabagan town, the leading crop is cassava, which the farmers also dry under the sun so they can sell it at higher prices.
Due to the sudden rains in supposedly dry season – and the rains have become more frequent – it is getting more and more difficult to finish the process, the statement said.
As a result, farmers cannot meet the quality specified by buyers, hence decreased income as their product is bought at lower price.
To address the situation, six post harvest facilities will be constructed in the municipality, each equipped with a set of storehouse and cassava dryer. One cassava-grating machine will be also purchased and shared by farmers.
As a component of the projects, the beneficiaries will be trained so that they can properly manage and sustain the facilities.
The Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects started in the Philippines in 2002.
Since then, the Japanese Government has disbursed approximately P183 million for a total of 28 projects in the Philippines.
Japan believes that this project will strengthen not only friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines, but also the existing strategic partnership between the two countries. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)