By Ali G. Macabalang
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is pursuing unprecedented initiatives it started in 2020 to help transform the Island region, including the Bangsamoro autonomous community into “land of fulfilled promise.”
In the first week of 2021, MinDA Chair Manny Piñol has mentioned four agenda so far in separate Facebook posts: The bamboo farming and processing that proved pilot success in Bukidnon; the solar water supply program launched in Taraka, Lanao del Sur; Fishing and dried fish production exemplified lucratively in Zamboanga Sibugay; and the Sorghum farming set for mass harvest in Agusan del Sur.
In earlier posts, Sec. Piñol had disclosed MinDA’s commitment to push its partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines to link to the banking world several towns, especially in the Bangsamoro autonomous region, after the successful opening last year of initial three DBP automated teller machine kiosks in Malabang and Balabagan, Lanao del Sur.
Sec. Piñol also announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6, his administration’s pursuit for increased government attention to the welfare of Filipino farmers via legislative review or amendment in the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
He had made a representation last year that prompted Senator Manny Pacquiao to file a bill seeking to amend such edict, which both officials viewed as adverse to the farmers.
“At whatever cost, the Philippines must work on achieving rice self-sufficiency, or at least achieve a production level which would not make it totally dependent on imported rice. To do this, I made two simple recommendations based on my experience as a local government executive, former Agriculture Secretary and most of all, as a farmer,” Piñol said.
His recommendations included RTL amendment to “assure farmers that the market will not be flooded with imported rice when they harvest,: and the use of an amended Magna Carta for Small Farmers as the legal leg, which could set a Palay farm gate price of P20 per kilo to be followed by both the National Food Authority and commercial traders.
“Some may view this (assertion) as over-simplifying a complex global supply problem but that is what it really is, a simple problem with simple solutions,” he said.
On Agenda No. 1, Piñol said the MinDA would convene bamboo stakeholders in a virtual conference second week of January to organize the Mindanao Bamboo Industry Development Council.
The task to convene the virtual conference has been assigned to the Northern Mindanao Area Management Office (NM-AMO) of MinDA which covers Bukidnon, base of the first bamboo industrial processing facility in Mindanao, the Bukidnon Giant Bamboo Resources, Corp., which has proven that a bamboo farmer could net P200,000 per harvest in one hectare, he said.
Piñol said the Agenda No. 2 involves the furtherance of the MinDA-initiated solar-powered water supply launched last year in Taraka, Lanao del Sur, with the host local government obtaining a P215-million soft loan from DBP.
“The Taraka Solar-Water Supply and Irrigation is the first project implemented under the Mindanao Water Supply Program which was launched on Dec. 6, 2018 to provide water for drinking and agriculture in all areas in Mindanao,” the MinDA chief said, hinting at replicating the venture in other parts of Mindanao.
Under another agenda, he said, the MinDA will assist towns in Zamboanga Sibugay in “producing quality dried fish starting this year” as the agency establishes the first-ever Steam-Powered Fish Dryer in the province.
He cited Olutanga, one of three towns in Olutanga Island of Zamboanga Sibugay, as a base of dried-fish processing to be assisted by MinDA for possible replication in coastal areas of Mindanao, including Bangsamoro communities.
Constituting as Agenda 2021 No. 4 is the MinDA’s sustained backing of sorghum farming and production in Agusan del Sur.
Sec. Pinol said he and Agusan del Sur Governor Santiago Cane Jr., also a farmer, led officials in a ceremonial harvest on Jan. 3 of the sorghum planted last year with seeds provided by MinDA.
The seeds were donated by Scott Seeds of Hereford Texas through its owner Coby Kriegshauzer last year and distributed to several farmers groups and local government units in Mindanao as part of the Livestock and Poultry Industry Development Program of MinDA, he said. AGM