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New project to help Mindanao agriculture

Another agricultural enhancement project is set to take off as it aims to develop key crops in the country with Mindanao among the focus areas, Trade and Industry Regional Director Edwin Banquerigo said.

Banquerigo said the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnerships for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) project is about to start this year after a year of preparation as the project aims to boost the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 which is to “achieve a market-driven agri-production.”

He said the expectations are that in four months, production of coffee, cacao, coconut, and fruits and nuts will increase.

“Coffee and cacao are all about Mindanao because 80-90% of cacao is in Mindanao. Same with coffee, Region X, XI, and XII are the top (producers). Coconut, (Regions X-XII are) also on top. Fruits and nuts, the same. These are the growth (areas that we are trying to (achieve),” Banquerigo said.

RAPID Growth is a project that follows the value chain model as it establishes local markets first, prepares them, and then starts its production by the farmers.

It has a sustainable approach by establishing a strong market support to micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and farmer groups by linking them.

“Do not plant until we have the market,” said Banquerigo, addressing the farmers as he noted that the project will help farmers sign partnership agreements with the markets.

Among its components are roads and production that are necessary in good agricultural productivity as the project will also provide better planting materials to beneficiaries.

Banquerigo said productivity and quality are key factors in ensuring better production and the project will find ways to address these challenges.

“One of the reasons (why) farmers are earning less (is) because productivity is low. Some are producing more but the quality is not good. Premium quality is premium price. So if you have high productivity and producing quality beans, then that would mean more income for the farmers,” he said.

He added: “Improve their productivity, provide them quality seedlings, and at the same time, we provide them facilities, we teach them how to take care of the beans to achieve these two basic elements: productivity and quality.”

The project targets to help 78,200 farmer households, 1,265 medium enterprises, and 190 small and medium enterprises from 20 provinces nationwide, with 17 in Mindanao. They are currently profiling the beneficiaries through farm cooperatives and also doing a massive promotion through Negosyo Centers where farmers are encouraged to join during consultations.

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