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FAO, NZ ink deal to help boost ARMM agri sector

The New Zealand government signed a deal with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for P130-million agricultural livelihood project in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Jose Luis Fernandez, representative of FAO in the Philippines, said on Tuesday night during the signing ceremony at Marco Polo Davao Hotel that the project will help the communities affected by armed conflict and natural disasters.

“We aim to create opportunities to increase people’s incomes, facilitate linkages with the value chain, ensure market opportunities in growth centers and help communities to become more proactive in dealing with future shocks,” Fernandez said.

In the FAO statement released on its website, the project is targeted to benefit 3,000 households. The project seeks to improve productivity, food security and provide farming inputs, agricultural machinery, post-harvest facilities and trainings.

“Farmer organizations will also be integrated into the value chain through skills development and market linkages. Another key component of the project is equipping communities with disaster risk reduction and management tools and increasing their knowledge of approaches that consider agro-ecological and socio-political-institutional contexts,” FAO said.

Fernandez said the New Zealand government has been their partner to help the communities in Mindanao. “As we venture into this new partnership, which will target Maguindanao and North Cotabato, it is our hope that our past successes will be sustained and scale up,” he said.

New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan said they also supported the peace process in the island, in conjunction with FAO, since 2011 when they contributed P293 million to revive rural livelihoods in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

“We are on the verge of witnessing a historic breakthrough on the peace process with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and New Zealand wants to play its bit,” Strachan said. (KMF)

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