FAO and New Zealand partner to support conflict- and drought-affected municipalities in Cotabato Province

FAO and New Zealand partner to support conflict- and drought-affected municipalities in Cotabato Province

13/01/2017

Farming and fishing families in Mindanao are no stranger to both natural and human-induced disasters. For over four decades now, their lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by recurrent displacement as a result of periodic armed clashes. In the past five years, strong typhoons and widespread drought have worsened their struggle.

“Equipping farming and fishing communities with skills, knowledge and resources to recover from crises, to minimize losses from future disasters, and to eventually rise from poverty is among the most important programmes of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the country,” said FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernández.

Through a USD3-million grant from the New Zealand Government, FAO is currently supporting the recovery of 10 475 farming and fishing households in the Province of Cotabato. The project, which will operate until October 2017, aims to re-start agricultural livelihoods and improve the coping abilities and resilience of smallholders in five municipalities: Aleosan, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan and Pikit.

The distribution of farm and fisheries inputs is currently underway. This includes rice, corn and vegetable seeds, fruit tree seedlings, fertilizer, drying nets, small farm machinery, post-harvest equipment, hand tools, livestock and poultry, tilapia fingerlings and gillnets.

To complement these resources, FAO is also conducting climate-smart farmer field schools and other livelihood skills trainings, training on basic planning for disaster risk reduction and management in agriculture including in agriculture hazard and vulnerability mapping and analysis, good practice options and technologies, and early warning and disaster preparedness.

“We have seen how peace, food security and economic growth are often mutually reinforcing. It is from this perspective that we emphasize the need for communities to be provided the kind of support that the Government of New Zealand is enabling us to deliver,” Fernández added.

Food security situation

National accounts reveal that 11 of the 20 poorest provinces are in this primarily agriculture-dependent region. Some three-fourths of the population of Mindanao or about 12.6 million people fall under levels 2 (mild chronic food insecurity), 3 (moderate chronic food insecurity) and 4 (severe chronic food insecurity), on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. Of them, 1.96 million were found to be suffering from severe chronic food insecurity in 2015.

FAO programme in Mindanao

Since 2015, FAO has been working with the Government to address priority agricultural development issues in the region through its Mindanao Strategic Programme for Agriculture and Agribusiness (MSPAA).  While yet to be fully-funded, the MSPAA has served as a framework for the implementation of at least five projects in areas most severely affected by natural and man-made calamities.

FAO’s work in Mindanao is implemented in close partnership with the Government through its various agencies on the national, regional and local levels. FAO also coordinates with the Mindanao Development Authority and works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the Bangsamoro Development Agency, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and other pertinent agencies and local government units.