The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is positioning itself to be a major food producer for the Philippines in the future.
A recent virtual conference “Planting the Right Seeds: Agricultural Investment Opportunities in BARMM during this Pandemic” showcased the state of the agricultural sector in terms of food security and the future of the agricultural sector in BARMM.
“As an agricultural country in the midst of an uncertain pandemic, it is crucial that the value of locally-produced crops is understood. Besides, a portion of the food that people partake come from these crops. And while it is typical to look at this from an investment standpoint, a paramount issue would be sustaining peace in Mindanao, especially in BARMM, through building sustainable communities. This will involve introducing BARMM to the business community in other parts of the country to showcase BARMM’s potential to integrate in the agricultural supply chain,” said Antonio Peralta, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council (ECCP-SMBC) via Messenger.
The conference provided new opportunities to re-orient the food systems. The speakers focused on the areas of growth and the investment opportunities in agriculture in BARMM and the role of the major international food companies in the program was also presented that will be implemented in the coming year.
The activity was highlighted with the signing of partnerships of companies with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), which was tasked by the BARMM Government in helping rural communities, especially former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Camps’ transformation to productive farms showcasing new farming technologies that can help improve farm outputs.
Six deals were inked through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the ECCP SMBC that will benefit the BARMM area: BDA and Marine Algae Products Inc. (MAPI), which is about the identification of seaweed production sites in the Tawi Tawi and Sulu Provinces where mobile seaweed processing facilities can be operated to meet the current market requirements of MAPI in Australia and Europe. The project once implemented will create a high economic impact in seaweed farming communities where the project will be located.
The BDA and ACTI Global Inc.’s agreement aims to promote mutual co- operation in research, and livelihood development and training for advancement of knowledge and agricultural development, Industry and other Community Development initiatives. ACTI Global Inc. will provide the technical assistance in the aspect of farm mechanization and farm equipment management to BDA for projects requiring these given the strong thrusts towards agricultural development in BARMM. The approach towards farm mechanization will enable farmers to be more efficient in their farming operations as it seeks to reduce the cost of production given less post-harvest losses.
“As in the case of rice farming and according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and PhilRice savings of about 20 percent in product cost can be attained with the use of farm equipment. Farm mechanization also contributes to the efficiency of food supply chains as postharvest, processing and marketing activities become more effective,” Peralta said.
The MOU between BDA and Noble Endeavors Mindanao, Inc. / Ethical Harvest calls for the joint study and implementation of a goat milk processing facility in the BARMM area. The said facility will house a model meat goat breeding, and farmer training center, including the provision of the necessary Goat barn infrastructure that will be established. This will also provide suitable premises to enable the establishment of a Genetic (semen) collection laboratory and quarantine facility for storage of goat semen and research activities.
This also includes the development of an onsite laboratory and quarantine facility to collect, manage and store genetic material.
The partnership of the BDA and East West Seed International will jointly explore effective vegetable farming methods that can benefit farming communities. The planting of vegetables can either be done in tandem with coconut or cacao farms as an intercrop commodity as an additional source of livelihood for farmers.
“Vegetable farming can also be done on a stand-alone basis. This can be ideal in the former rebel camps as a major livelihood activity,” Peralta said.
The MOU between BDA and Traxerve Inc. will call for the establishment of demo farms that will jointly encourage and facilitate systematic and cooperative actions between the in achieving common objective which is the establishment of an effective and cost efficient growing and supply chain for rice and other crops in rice producing communities. This will also employ the use of farming technologies and products that will enhance farm crop production in order to obtain farm gate prices.
Meanwhile, the agreement between BDA and Earth Cube Inc. focuses on identifying the possibility on developing the operational and financial feasibility of establishing a waste to fertilizer plant in main cities in the Provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, and some barangays of North Cotabato. Earth Cube will provide the requirements of the type of waste that can be processed into fertilizers as well as determine the alternatives in sourcing of the waste to fertilizer facility.
The conference was organized by ECCP-SMBC in partnership with its agriculture committee, BDA, Inc. and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR).
“This our share in the peace building efforts being led by the government,” Peralta said.
By Maya Padillo
Source: Edge Davao