255 JICA-funded projects approved in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 March)– Two hundred fifty-five projects worth P2.44 billion were approved early this month under the Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (MinSAAD), a project of the Department of Agrarian Reform funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Harvesting rice in Davao. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Alvin Obrique, MinSAAD agriculture, agribusiness and agroforestry component manager, said in an interview at the sidelines of Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday that the projects consist of farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation, post-harvest, and rural water supply facilities.

He said the projects cater to agrarian reform communities in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato in Soccsksargen; Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte in Northern Mindanao; and Compostela Valley and Davao del Sur in Davao Region.

He said the communities are selected as beneficiaries as many of them are the “last frontier of DAR settlements” in Mindanao, seldom visited by “government development workers and even by the private sector” due to problem with roads.

MinSAAD, a P4.4-billion project between JICA and government, started in 2012 and has since been assisting 110,000 ARBs in Mindanao in DAR’s 12 settlements in 27 municipalities. It will end in 2019.

Obrique said the farmers in these communities used to be poor as they could not deliver their produce to the market due to lack of roads.

“Our intervention is to help farmers develop technologies to increase production and income. We truly believe that the best incentive so our farmers will plant, our business will flourish is the support in the establishment of infrastructure such as farm to market roads,” he added.

He said the project aims to increase agricultural productivity, product value, and income of the farmers through “provision of small scale agricultural infrastructure and agricultural/ organization capacity building support thereby contributing to increase competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture in the covered areas.”

On Tuesday, DAR held MinSAAD’s “Usapang Kalakalan” at the Apo View Hotel Davao, to assist farmers by by linking their products and services to the appropriate market.

A press briefer added that the event will provide information on market opportunities and requirements to MinSAAD-priority peoples organizations that are producing, processing and trading rice, corn, rubber, peanut, coffee, and abaca in Regions 10, 11 and 12. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)