Philippines: Arroyo extends aid to Mindanaos small farmers

May. 02, 2007

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY The Arroyo administration affirms its strong thrust to
support small farmers, fisherfolks and agricultural producers of Mindanao as
it lines up projects to improve agricultural productivity in the
island-region and ensure food sustainability in the country.

In a message delivered by Vice-President Noli de Castro at the
recently-concluded 1st Mindanao Agri and Food Convention (MAFCON) here last
week, President Arroyo said that a total of P2.5 billion worth of funds has
been allocated by the Department of Agriculture for irrigation projects
which will generate employment for some 487,000 Mindanawons.

Agriculture remains the backbone of our economy, so if you want to grow our
economy faster and create more jobs, then we have to give our farmers and
farm lands the attention they deserve, the Presidents message reads.

Speaking before 200 participants at the convention, Vice President De Castro
relayed that a total of P5.5 billion has been earmarked for the construction
of about 3,400 kilometer farm to market roads in Mindanao to ease up
transportation as well as reduce delivery time and cost of food products
from the farms to the market. The government has likewise committed to build
entrepreneurial capacity of small agricultural producers in Mindanao by
assisting them in market research, analysis and promotions.

Mindanao contributes to more than 30% of the countrys food requirement as
one-third of its land is devoted to agriculture employing one-third also of
the total labor force. Major crops are rubber, pineapple, banana, coffee,
cassava, corn and coconut.

The stability and prosperity of business and trade will result to creation
of economic activities, jobs and employment opportunities. This means
generation of incomes for the household and creation of new sources of
revenue for the government so that it can better implement needed services,
programs and projects, said Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chair of the
Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo).

Pinned on the theme, Mindanao Agribusiness for the Philippines and the
World Market, agricultural growers and processors in Mindanao take a
unified commitment to work on various initiatives that will improve their
position in the global market.

In a declaration of commitment and support signed by various producer
associations of Mindanao, one of the planned initiatives identified is to
organize a Mindanao-wide Chamber of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Industries that will ensure prioritization of issues of the local agri,
fisheries and food producers.

They also plan to consolidate and update existing industry development plans
to come up with a strong common framework in Mindanao, work closely with
agencies and other concerned sectors in identification and implementation of
projects, build partnerships and expand inter-activities among

The said declaration of commitment was signed by representatives from the
Chamber of Agriculture, Fisheries and Allied Industries (CAFFINORMIN),
SOCKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries (SFFAII), Mindanao
Fruit Industry Development Council (MinFruit), Paglas Group of Companies,
CARAGA Oil Palm Producers Association, NorMin Poultry, Higaon Tribal Council
of Northern Mindanao, Greater Mindanao Mango Development Foundation, Inc.,
NorMin Cassaya Industry Association, Banana Industry Development Association
Region 10, NorMin Producers Association and Northern Mindanao Veggies
Industry Association (NorMin Veggies).

DA Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras accepted the resolutions from the
producers and assured them of the necessary support from the government.

We have come to realize that unless we embrace the reality of a globalized
market environment, unless we in the production sector upgrade our
technologies and cultivation practices, unless we shift our mindsets to be
more entrepreneurial in our approach to our farms, we will not successfully
hurdle the necessary leap from traditional production to the more profitable
world of agribusiness, Engr. Edwin Andot, Convention Chairperson and
President of CAFFINORMIN said.

CAFFINORMIN is a network of 26 industry associations that promotes
championing stakeholders interest towards sustainable and globally
competitive development.

The three-day activity which was held April 23-25, 2007 also included
exhibits of agricultural products from Mindanao and tours to XU Manresa
Farm, Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farm, Motherland, DarlingFood, Slers,
and Pine Ham, Del Monte Plantation, Vegetable City and NORMIARC Stock Farm.

Among the exhibitors were AA BioTekh Ent. Co., Aboitez One, Inc., 2Go, San
Miguel Foods, Inc., B-MEG and San Miguel Animal Health Care Products, Beta
Foam Corp., Sagrex Corp., Bio-IBG Phil. Corp., C&T Water Enterprise Corp.,
DA-X/POPANORMIN, DTI X-One Town One Product, Fil-Am Foods, Inc., USAID-GEM,
Mindanao Rural Development Program, Monsanto Phils., Inc./DEKALB, Netafim
Phils., Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Star Kaser Trading
Corp., Steag State Power Corp., Turquiose Turkish Restaurant,
Univet/Vetracin Gold/Early Wean, Vitarich Corp., YSU Marketing/ASU.

Meanwhile, DA, NFC, USAID-GEM, MEDCo, CDOC, Province of Misamis Oriental and
the Regional Development Council served as co-organizers of MAFCON with
support from the National Economic Development Authority, Department of
Tourism, Department of Interior and Local Government, DTI, Department of
Agrarian Reform, PhilExport, NORMINSA, XUCA, and PRO. MEDCo

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