Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao—Local and national officials have unveiled efforts to help improve agriculture production here and turn areas harmed by armed conflict in the past into development grounds at par with other communities.
Department of Agriculture officials joined a dialogue here and engaged farmers together with representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
DAF-ARMM Assistant Regional Secretary Eugene Strong said three more projects worth P12 million were added to the 20-hectare ARMM Integrated Area Research Center Complex here.
Strong represented both ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and DAF-ARMM Regional Secretary Alexander Alonto Jr. in the open-field dialogue with farmers.
Director Esmael S. Satol of the Research and Development Program said ARMM is far behind other regions in terms of agriculture research and development, and that adding facilities in the ARMMIARC Complex is the way forward for the region’s agriculture-based economy.
Strong said the regional government has been grateful for the Duterte administration’s support to ARMM’s agricultural development, through Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.
Piñol, the former Cotabato governor, also opened to local farmers the newly completed ARMMIARC’s Food Product Development Center, worth P2 million.
Raymond Patrick Cabrera of the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research said P3 million has been allocated for the construction of a Multipurpose Research and Development Facility, which will also cater to meetings, seminars and social events for up to 700 persons, also at the at the ARMMIARC Complex.
Cabrera and Strong opened to public the groundbreaking ceremonies for the P3-million Multipurpose Research and Development Facility here, together with Recarte Castro, the area coordinator of the DA’s Community-based Participatory Action Research.
Tong Abas, manager of the ARMMIARC, said P7 million has been prior earmarked for the development of CPAR in three pilot municipalities in Maguindanao—Datu Paglas, Mamasapano and Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Nasrullah Dilangalen, agriculture and fishery information officer, said officials have rarely held direct community engagements with farmers, exchanging on their requests to improve agricultural production, and the outright answers of commitment to deliver—or decline—the requested assistance, on the part of government representatives.
Dr. Kadiguia R. Abdullah, head of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division, said during full engagements with farmers, they would always presume that government commitments were made in the name of high officials—including, President Duterte, Piñol, Governor Hataman and ARMM Agriculture Secretary Alonto.
She said to ensure truthful delivery of commitments, or to honestly decline some of the farmers’ requests, depending on resources, any dialogue should have the full backing of concerned officials—among them: Dr. Jalika D. Mangacop, head of DAF-ARMM High-Value Cropping Program, and Planning chief, Mariam B. Abutazil, along with local leaders.