JICA-Cotabato Project Office sponsors CD-CAAM projects’ fieldtrip in Lanao Del Norte

The Japan International Cooperation Agency-Cotabato Project Office (JICA-CPO) sponsored a fieldtrip visit to farmers belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from Camp Abubakar together with officials of Bangsamoro Transition Commission Socio-Economic Office (BTC-SEO) staff, and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)  on January 26, 2016 at Matungao, Lanao Del Norte.

There were twelve farmers that participated in the site visit.

Engr. Aida Silongan, CD-CAAM Program Management Officer of the BDA said the project started in 2012 comprising three sectors- Agriculture, Fishery and Infrastructure.

“The CD-CAAM project have three phases, the first phase includes formulation of basic policy of the project, selection of target municipalities, social preparation and among others,” said Silongan.

“The second phase is the implementation process from November 2013 until 2014; and the third phase was the compilation phase (November 2014-March 2015) that covers ex-post assessment, formulation of community guidelines and operational manual of pilot projects,” she added.

“It is good that the duration of the projects was extended from May 2015 to July 2016 with six pillars as basic operational guidelines,” Silongan disclosed.

“The CD-CAAM pillars is inclusive; this is why it is expanded in Lanao del Norte wherein non-Moro communities are among the recipients,” said Silongan.

Other pillars are balancing development needs and potential, farmer to farmer extension, mobilization and networking with local resources, strong partnership with LGUs, and comprehensive management process.

Currently, the project site areas are Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao; Panglima Sugala, Tawi-tawi and in Matungao municipality of Lanao del Norte.

After a courtesy call to Matungao Vice Mayor Abdul aziz Liwalug, the team proceeded to Barangay Pasayanon and visited the fish cage culture pilot project. The project beneficiaries briefed and orientated the team on Tilapia fish culture and management.

On the same day, the team also visited a goat production project site in Barangay Somiorang and a vegetable production farm in Barangays Matampay and Puntod.

In a short program held at Barangay Puntod, the Moro farmers said that their exposures provided them essential knowledge that maybe used in their respective communities when they return home. They however urged JICA to put similar projects in their areas.

Naoyuki Ochiai, Head and Chief Leader of the JICA-CPO said during the evening closing program that JICA will continue its assistance to the Moro people.

“…Because we understand that (Moro) people in the ground cannot wait until something is happening in their communities, I am telling you that today is not the end, this is a beginning for our farmers and I hope to see you again in your communities,” told Ochiai.

Basir Calim, of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) MILF Coordinator extended his appreciation to the initiatives of the JICA and other sectors. He also said that the activity is consonant to the sacrifices of the Moro people and the MILF combatants for their more than 4-decades of struggle in finding lasting peace, economic development and sustainability.

Nomaire Mustapha, Project Coordinator for Public Service Delivery of the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro emphasized the need to solve the Bangsamoro question and end Mindanao conflict.

Mustapha said that this is the reason on why Moro people in the conflict affected-areas become unproductive because oftentimes they are displaced. “They cannot engage in farm activities like planting vegetables because every time arm encounters transpire, they are forced to evacuate from their communities,” he lamented.  

The team who visited CD-CAAM project sites in Matungao, Lanao del Norte was composed of BDA-Central Management Office, BDA Team Ranao, IC Net Limited, BTC-SEO, JICA-CPO and Philippine Office, JNC staff and MILF farmers, International Development Journal, Matungao LGU, the 99.0 Voice FM Cotabato, and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Last year in December, JICA organized similar activity for MILF farmers in six municipalities at the former Camp Abubakar under the JNC program and visited PhilRice Midsayap; Barangay Gayonga, Northern Kabuntalan; the demo-farm in Barangay Kuden, Talitay and in Barangay Bugawas, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.