NZ extends $2.5-M aid to Mindanao farm sector
New Zealand has earmarked $2.5 million to support agricultural development and food security in Mindanao, which is seen to benefit at least 3,000 farming households or about 15,000 people in conflict-affected areas in the region.
In a briefing, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the aid would be used to restore the agricultural livelihood of residents affected by armed conflict, drought and flooding in Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in the past three years.
“Agriculture sits at the heart of the development opportunity in Mindanao. Half of the Philippines’ agri-businesses are located in Mindanao. An efficient agricultural sector will enable Mindanao to fulfill its reputation as the food basket of the Philippines. The Mindanaoan economy and the health of its people depend on agricultural success,” Peters said.
Data from the Department of Agriculture showed that Mindanao supplies about 40 percent of the country’s food requirements while contributing about 30 percent to national food trade.
Through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the DA, families would be given agricultural machinery and post-harvest facilities, including agricultural inputs for crop and livestock production.
The agencies would also identify market and value-chain opportunities for the farmers and fisherfolk and facilitate capacity training that would teach communities disaster risk reduction strategies and climate change adaptation.
Moreover, a five-year Philippine-New Zealand Dairy Project is also set to begin in the first quarter of 2018. This would support 24 focus farms across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The program, with an allocated budget of P388 million from the New Zealand government, also involves a six-month dairy training curriculum to standardize the teaching of modern dairy farm management practices in the country.
This is on top of the DA’s dairy roadmap aimed at ramping up local milk production to meet at least 10 percent of the yearly domestic requirement by 2022 and reduce the country’s reliance on imports.
“The new project will provide vulnerable communities with the means to establish micro and agribusiness enterprises that are able to compete in new and existing markets, and also to become more proactive in dealing with natural and human-induced disasters,” FAO representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernández said.
Since 2011, FAO has implemented several New Zealand-funded projects in the Philippines including recovery assistance to the coconut-based farming sector in the Visayas and emergency delivery of seeds and fertilizer in typhoon-hit areas in Central Luzon.
“With improved yields, increased incomes and resilience, they will have better chances to break the cycle of poverty and food insecurity,” Fernández said.
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