Philippines: USAID Helps Former Rebels in Mindanao Diversify into Banana Production

May. 11, 2007

MANILA — The American people have introduced 400 former combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from North Cotabato, Central Mindanao to the production of cardaba bananas, a particular variety of bananas that are in demand by domestic and overseas markets, particularly for banana chips.

Learning these skills helps them create a peaceful, productive life for their families. Pictured above, former MNLF combatants tend to their banana plants in the Municipality of Carmen,North Cotabato Province.

The U.S. Agency for International Developments (USAID) Livelihood Enhancement and Peace (LEAP) program has helped former combatants learn new skills for the past few years. The LEAP program trained 28,000 former combatants in the production of corn, rice and seaweed to enable them to begin earning livelihoods immediately after the signing of the peace agreement that ended hostilities between the Philippine Government and the MNLF.

From the initial group of 28,000 former combatants, USAIDs Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) program selected 8,000 “graduates” and assisted them in diversifying their production to higher value crops and marine products. The diversification from corn to cardaba bananas brought substantial benefits for the selected farmers, most of whom have doubled their incomes.

The GEM program provided training and technical assistance and arranged marketing agreements between the farmers and banana chips processing companies.

# # #

****** INBOX is an archive of press releases, statements, announcements, letters to the editors, and manifestos sent to Davao Today for publication. Please email your materials to Davao Today reserves the right to edit or refuse material for publication. *****

comments powered by Disqus