By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) and indigenous people (IP) in Mindanao will soon enjoy better economic opportunities with the turn over of P334-million worth of infrastructure and crop and food production projects.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the support services include solar dryers, farm-to-market roads, bridges, communal irrigations, potable water systems, and production of rubber, coffee, abaca, pili, rice and corn.
These were constructed and implemented in the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, South and North Cotabato.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones, who led the ceremonial turnover, said he expects a big economic turnaround for farm communities in Mindanao now that these infrastructure projects are completed and the food and crop production are on-going.
“These projects are significant in achieving progress in rural communities. These were implemented not only to make life easier for our farmers, but also to sustain the development of their communities,” Castriciones said.
“Projects such as these were provided because it is what the farming communities really need to spur rural development, and it is the reason why DAR is here for them,” he added.
The DAR chief said among those who will benefit from the infrastructure projects were the IPs, specifically, the Blaans, Mansakas and Mandayas, who were given land titles under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
These IPs reside in settlements established by the government in the municipalities of Matanao and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur (for the Blaans) and in Maragusan and New Bataan in Compostela valley (for the Mansakas and Mandayas).
DAR Undersecretary for Foreign-Assisted Projects Bernie Cruz said the projects implemented under the Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (MinSAAD) Project aims to increase productivity and income of farmers through provision of agricultural infrastructure and enhance their knowledge and skills in farming and business through capacity building activities.
“Our intervention is to help farmers develop technologies to increase production and income. We truly believe that the best incentive for our farmers to plant and for their agri-business to flourish, is to support them through the provision of infrastructures like these,” Cruz said.
He added that more than 6,000 ARBs, non-ARBs and IPs will soon start reaping the benefits of these projects from MinSAAD.
“Infrastructure such as roads, bridges and irrigation facilities are vital components in the Department’s drive to spur rural development in farm communities. These rural infrastructures would greatly help farmers and IPs increase their productivity and income,” Cruz said.
MinSAAD, a P4.4-billion project of JICA and the Philippine government, started in 2012 and has since been assisting 110,000 ARBs in Mindanao in DAR’s 12 settlements in 27 municipalities.