Farmers from six municipalities around Camp Abubakar complete Specialized Training Course on Upland Rice-Based Farming 

Cotabato City — Team of farmers from six municipalities around Camp Abubakar, a recognized former main military camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) completed a five-day intensive training-workshop on Specialized Training Course on Upland Rice-Based Farming System and are now ready to transfer their knowledge and skills acquired to their colleagues.

The target community for this program are farmers from the municipalities of Matanog, Buldon, Barira in Maguindanao, and Balabagan, Kapatagan, and Marogong, in Lanao Del Sur.

Omal Abdulkadil of PhilRice-Midsayap said that the project is a result of a JICA study along with their socio-economic team who went to Camp Abubakar, Matanog, Maguindanao and Camp Busra in Lana Del Sur. “Based on the result of the study, one of the interventions needed by our brothers in Camp Abubakar and Camp Busra are on agricultural development”, Abdulkadil said.

In this engagement, he said, PhilRice was commissioned by JICA to provide technical expertise on the program and transfer those technical knowhow to the community. 

Abdulkadil explained further that the project duration shall be two years but it may be extended inorder to have a better impact on the lives of villagers.

Key official of DAF-ARMM, Dr Daud Lagasi said the project will develop and improve the capacity of farmers in the Bangsamoro areas. He also told the farmers that “We in the DAF hoped that this project will become a model for our farmers to improve their living conditions and clients.

Commenting on the country’s resources, he said: “The Philippines is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of land, marine and waters resources and yet we still remain as one of the poorest country”? 

“Why until now we are still talking about rice self-sufficiency?” asked Lagasi. 

Lagasi recalled an article by former DAF Under Secretary that said “For the Philippine agriculture to improve, we have to follow the Vietnamese discipline in dealing with agriculture.” We must back them up and follow-up; gave proper support and do monitoring.

He said that there must be a need to improve the character and values of farmers, and the leaders. “We won’t be developed because of our negative values especially the leaders, we need to change this”, he stressed. 

He also gave emphasis on ‘agricultural modernization’ to further boost economic income of local farmers.

Mamiko Nakada, Project Coordinator of JICA commended the performance of the trainee-farmers during their rigid training, and said “JICA is very much excited that you are ready to teach and instruct other farmers at farmers’ field school next month in six municipalities of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.”

The Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-) according to Nakada have three (3) components, namely Strengthening Governance, Economic Enhancement and Community Development by which the activity is falls under third component which aims to support enhancement of livelihood activities of the people in the community

Nakada elaborated that community residents in the six municipalities depend much their livelihood on agriculture as their source of income; however she said the agriculture regions’ production is below average compared to the rest of the Philippines.

“But this is normal a condition that if it is affected by conflict for so many years, it will become unproductive communities,” she pointed out. 

Engineer Mohajiren Ali, the CCDP-B Project Director said that the project is very special project for the MILF. 

“With JICA, we implemented combination of both hard (eq. Quick Impact Project) and soft (eq. Capacity Building) interventions. And this project is a continuation of CCDP-B with the direct engagement of JICA-Bangsamoro Transition Commission and the participation of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI)’, Engr. Ali also said.

“This is the first engagement of the MILF as far as farming industry is concerned,” Engr. Ali said further.

“The community influenced by the MILF is open for development but before this community is reluctant to it. I’m hoping for the smooth implementation of our program,” he added. 

The participants were able to learn Upland Rice Production/Palaycheck, Rice-based Farming System, Vegetable production, Livestock Production, Facilitation and Communication Skills, also Values Transformation Training (VTT) and Leadership and Management.

The JICA, PhilRice, BTC, BDA and BLMI have trained 12 Municipal Agriculture Officers (MAO), Agriculture Technicians, and Agriculture Development Officers (ADO) on July 25-26, 2016 held at Em Manor, Cotabato City. The said training was closely supervised by two representatives from JICA-Manila Office.