Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - By Karl R. Ocampo @ko­cam­poINQ

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 con­flictaf­fected ar­eas in the re­gion.

In a brief­ing, New Zealand Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters said the aid­would­beused 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.

Theagen­cies 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 Zealand­funded 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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