Italy pours P2.5B for agrarian communities in 4 Mindanao provinces

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 1 February) — The Italian government has allocated P2.5 billion in development funds for agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in four Mindanao provinces.

The Italian Assistance to Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program (IARCDSP) covers Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao and Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said Friday after the signing here of the memorandum of agreement for the IARCDSP that at least 35 ARCs will benefit from the project.

The project aims to increase or stabilize the income and improve the access to key services of 27,613 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB), including fisher folk, indigenous people and upland farmers, he said.

In Sultan Kudarat, the covered areas include the municipalities of Lambayong, Lutayan, Esperanza, Isulan, Tacurong, Kalamansig, Lebak and President Quirino.

In Sarangani, the project will include the municipalities of Alabel, Glan, Kiamba, Maitum, Malapatan and Malungon.

The cities of Cotabato and General Santos are also part of the project area.

In Maguindanao, the project sites include the towns of Datu Montawal, Datu Piang, North Upi, SK Pendatun and Sultan Mastura.

In Lanao del Sur, it covers the towns of Wao, Bubong, Kapatagan, Balindong and Malabang.

The project components are agriculture and enterprise, community infrastructure development, local capacity building support both for the local government units and the ARCs, and program management.

Included in the infrastructure development will be farm-to-market roads and post harvest and irrigation facilities, de los Reyes said.

DAR-ARMM Secretary Aquino Sajili said that product development is the focus area for the agrarian and enterprise development components.

In the region’s convergence approach, after a product is developed, government agencies such as the departments of Trade and Industry and Tourism will help in the product promotion, he added.

Acting ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the project would deal with the entire communities, not only with the ARCs, and its components “will have big impact to the farmers in the areas.”

With a participatory approach, the provincial governments will help elevate the people’s economic condition by helping them decide what is best for them, he said.

The IARCDSP framework aims that after six years of implementation, the ARBs’ income will be above the poverty threshold.

Specifically, the project seeks to increase by “20 percent the average net income of the target household beneficiaries.”

It also aims that 53,000 households will have increased access to basic infrastructure and social services, and 50 farmers’ organizations will be efficiently managed to become bankable. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)