FAO in the Philippines

FAO calls for support to mobilize a six-year Mindanao strategic programme for the agriculture sector

FAO’s Mindanao strategy focuses on the distinct needs and unique capacities of conflict-affected areas in ARMM and more progressive areas in the region to contribute to inclusive economic growth.

Manila – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recently convened members of the donor community as part of its efforts to mobilize resources to fund the implementation of a six-year strategic framework for Mindanao’s agriculture sector.

The Mindanao Strategic Programme for Agriculture and Agribusiness (MSPAA), which envisions to contribute to the reduction of poverty, improve food and nutrition security, resilience to natural disasters and climate change, serves as a blueprint of the priorities for technical cooperation in the region.

“The agriculture sector in Mindanao has a strong potential to drive inclusive growth and sustained peace. With adequate funding support, FAO aims to link the lagging areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with more progressive areas through investments in connective infrastructure, human and social capital, while increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said José Luis Fernández, FAO Representative in the Philippines.

He added that the MSPAA has been carefully aligned with the Government’s priorities identified in the Mindanao Strategic Development Framework 2010-2020, the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework, the Bangsamoro Development Plan and the Updated Philippine Development Plan.

Recognizing the disparities in growth between conflict-affected municipalities in ARMM and the more progressive areas in other regions of Mindanao, FAO through the MSPAA, will adopt a differentiated approach that will address the distinct needs of the two focus areas and maximize their unique capacities to contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

All projects under the MSPAA are designed to increase production and productivity and promote appropriate technologies, including new crop varieties, better livestock breeds and fishery/aquaculture species. These will integrate climate-smart technologies that can respond effectively to climate change impacts and natural disasters.

The competiveness and profitability of small-scale agriculture will also be improved through, among others, enhancing diversification, value-adding on- and off-farm processing and intensifying post-harvest technologies.

The MSPAA also aims to foster the improvement of governance and institutional frameworks for accessing technology, credit and markets, including tapping the private sector to link with small-scale farmers under co-production or marketing arrangements.

“Consultations and dialogues with stakeholders, including small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, were instrumental in structuring interventions that will be relevant to existing and future needs,” explained Fernández.

Conflict-affected areas, specifically in the ARMM, have historically registered about 15 percent higher poverty rates than areas in Mindanao’s growth centres. The displacement of small-scale farmers and fisherfolk due to the cycle of armed conflict in the last four decades, in addition to inadequate agriculture and market infrastructure, has compromised their production capacities and access to livelihoods. In recent years, this has been further aggravated by shifting weather patterns, drought and flooding.

FAO’s assistance in these areas will focus on helping smallholders to bounce back from shocks, emergencies and natural disasters, while providing them with the means, technologies and skills, including agribusiness skills, to transition from subsistence farming to livelihoods that are linked to the value chain.

In areas outside the ARMM, FAO will support the introduction of sustainable productivity-enhancing technologies and the acceleration of agrarian reform efforts to improve farmers’ security of tenure and access to land resources. Projects under the MSPAA will also help increase forward linkage with the industry and services sectors through value-adding technologies, agribusiness development and value chain management activities. Additionally, it will encourage public-private sector partnerships and facilitate the development of rural infrastructure and facilities that will enhance production and link production areas to markets. The programme will also involve resilience-building through disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation technologies such as livelihood diversification.

FAO’s current support to Mindanao

FAO has provided technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Development Agency in the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan I and continues to support the preparation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan II. Through four on-going projects financed by its Technical Cooperation Programme funds, the Government of New Zealand, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection and the Peace Building Fund of the United Nations, it is currently helping to restore agricultural livelihoods affected by conflict, flooding and drought, and helping to improve the disaster risk reduction capacities of local governments in the region.