New Zealand to support farmers in Mindanao conflict areas

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A women walks past a United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) sign at the headquarters in Rome, January 16, 2006. -- REUTERS

NEW ZEALAND has committed a $2.5 million to support agricultural development and food security in Mindanao, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In a statement, the FAO said the project is aimed at restoring the agricultural livelihoods of communities affected by armed conflict, drought and flooding in the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur from 2015 to 2017.

The project is expected to reach 3,000 farming families in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces alone.

“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,” Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in the statement.

The funds from the project will pay for farming inputs and agricultural equipment, including post-harvest facilities; and value chain workshops for farm cooperatives.

The project will also help communities build resilience in the face of natural disasters.

“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 to also become more proactive in dealing with natural and human-induced disasters,” Jose Luis Fernandez, FAO representative in the Philippines, was quoted in the statement as saying.

“With improved yields, increased incomes and resilience, they will have better chances to break the cycle of poverty and food insecurity,” Mr. Fernandez added.

The New Zealand Aid Programme is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which has funded FAO projects globally. — Janina C. Lim