By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) of the Bangsamoro region has started works for the construction of a warehouse with solar dryer in Maguindanao’s SPMS box, a government-coined communal area comprising parts of four towns reeling from havoc of poverty-triggered insurgency.
MAFAR Minister Mohammad Yacob led the groundbreaking ceremony on August 5 at Barangay Bialong in Shariff Aguak and tasked workers of his ministry’s engineering division to administer the P5-million worth project sought by organized farmers as priority venture to enhance agricultural production, the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) said.
“Their area is vast, which is why the ministry chose them as the beneficiary of the project. They are also centered inside the SPMS box where the paddy field is extensive,” the BIO quoted Minister Yacob as saying in Pilipino.
The official was referring to some 100 subsistence farmers belonging to the Salindab Farmers Marketing Cooperative cultivating areas believed cleared by government forces from threats of armed lawless elements in the SMPS Box.
SPMS Box stands for adjacent areas in Shariff Aguak, Pagatin, Mamasapano, and Shariff Saydona towns which the military coined in years of clearing operations against armed outlaws including guerillas of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Reports said at least 128 BIFF guerillas have yielded to authorities following civil-military operations and rejoined the social mainstream being shaped by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-led interim administration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Five surrendered BIFF combatants gained local limelight after they graduated from maiden training for 59 volunteers on calamity response and rescue operations jointly staged on July 7-August 2 by the BARMM’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidents (READi) unit and the military’s 6th Infantry Division.
Farming villagers welcomed the just-launched MAFAR project, saying the facility appeared “small with big cause” in the government campaign on pacifying and transforming insurgent elements to peaceful and productive life.
In his ministry’s continuing information drive, Minister Yacob has encouraged residents, especially farmers to organize themselves into cooperatives and gain easy access to financial and technical assistance from his ministry and other line BARMM agencies. (PMT)