DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Ten towns in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will benefit from some P2.5 billion in assistance, extended mainly by the Italian government to uplift the conditions of over 30,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries in the area.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the Italian aid would go a long way in improving the lives of people in 35 agrarian reform communities through the building of rural infrastructure and providing start-up financing for livelihood projects and micro-enterprises in the area, not only for agrarian reform beneficiaries, but also for indigenous peoples, fisherfolks and upland farmers in these communities.
The project, funded mainly by a soft loan of 26,190,000 euro (P1.57 billion) and a grant of 1.35 million euro (P81 million) from the Italian government and some P866 million Philippine government counterpart, would benefit 53,000 households, and would be carried out in the next six years, said Hataman during the signing of the memorandum of agreement with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the implementation of the program.
“This means a lot to us, especially in the context of the signing of the framework agreement,” Hataman said, referring to the document signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in October 2012, which was expected to pave the way for a detailed political settlement.
According to Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, projects will be funded in the Maguindanao towns of Datu Montawal, Datu Piang, North Upi, SK Pendatun, Sultan Mastura; the Lanao del Sur towns of Wao, Bubong, Kapatagan, Balindong, Malabang, among others.
The fund assistance mainly seeks to increase agricultural productivity of agrarian reform communities, develop viable markets for traditional crops and cash crops and fishery products, and strengthen the organizations of agrarian reform beneficiaries and improving their access to quality economic and basic support services.
Hataman said the six-year development project would address rural poverty and promote sustainable development in rural Mindanao.