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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol

Chairman, MinDA

Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay - At the mouth of the wide but shallow Kabasalan River where fresh water meets the sea, 76 fisherfolk families have found a virtual gold mine - 'Talaba' or Oyster Farming.

Yesterday, before the start of the 2-day Eco-Tourism Planning for the members of the fisherfolk association facilitated by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), I was led by the group's leader, Ruperto Magbanua Ballon, known as Ka Dodoy to many, in a tour of the Talaba Gardens which they have established at the mouth of the river.

I was accompanied by the town's young mayor, Katrina Cainglet-Balladares, who had thrown the local government's full support to the fisherfolks' project while admitting that she has very little knowledge about aquaculture or "Talaba" farming.

Ka Dodoy told me that they started the "Talaba" farms in 2001 with the help of an NGO and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources by gathering oyster spawns from the mangroves which they had preserved and protected.

Through the years, Ka Dodoy said they were able to develop their own technology of growing the Oysters which is done by "planting" the spawns in the sandy river bed, instead of attaching these to poles or ropes.

The farms are segregated by bamboo poles to mark which area belongs to a family.

The Kabasalan Oyster Farm now produces at least 700 kilos a day which is sold for P25 per kilo or P17,500 daily which means an income of P230 per family everyday.

The Oyster Farming has motivated fisherfolk families in abandoning the risky illegal fishing, according to Ka Dodoy.

Yesterday, I had a taste of freshly harvested "Talaba" straight from the farms while I was in a small boat with Mayor Cainglet-Balladares.

The taste was surprisingly oustanding.

The Oysters were succulent and sweet-tasting and it could be mainly because of the clean waters as the fisherfolk families had imposed upon themselves a river clean up campaign.

I have tasted the Oysters of Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan which are also good but I have to declare that the Kabasalan Oysters were the best.

With the experience and information that I had yesterday, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will now engage other agencies of government to assist the Oyster farmers of Kabasalan in increasing the availability of Oyster spawns.

This could involve the establishment of a hatchery in the town to fully develop their "Talaba" Gardening Industry which could benefit many other families as well.

Watch the full video here:

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by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol

Chairman, MinDA

Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte - The second model village of the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program in Mindanao is now rising in the former territory of rebels and bandits in Kalawit, Zamvboanga del Norte.

The start of the construction comes less than a year after Kalawit, one of the newest towns of the province, was identified as the second location for the BPBP Model Village and the needed groundwork was completed.

The first BPBP Village was established in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte where the construction of 200 housing units is ongoing and would be ready for occupancy before the end of this year.

The Kalawit BPBP Model Village is being established in a former Pagkain ng Bayan production area which was abandoned years ago because of the presence of armed bandits.

Mayor Salvador Antojado, a retired officer of the Philippine Marines who saw action in the area before deciding to stay and run for the top political post of the town, cleared the area of rebels.

When MinDA asked Zamboanga del Norte Gov. Alberto Uy to identify a proposed area for the Balik Probinsya Model Village, he volunteered Kalawit.

The Kalawit Model BPBP Village is located in a 200-hectare area which will accomodate 200 families who are returning to Zamboanga del Norte from Metro Manila.

While the Kauswagan BPBP Village residents will be involved in poultry raising and vegetable production because of the smaller area of 6-hectares, the Kalawit BPBP occupants will have a wider area for high value crops production.

Among the products identified to be introduced to the returning families is the planting of high value coconuts, especially the Sweet and Aromatic variety, for the high-end market and for export.

Senator Chistopher Lawrence Go, who initiated the BPBP Program, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada and officials of other agencies involved in the project are expected to visit Kalawit soon for the launching of the BPBP Village.

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073021 6

by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol

Chairman, MinDA

Highly skilled Christian rice farmers, including a Nueva Ecijano who produces an average of 16-metric tons per hectare, will share their knowledge with Muslim Maranao farmers in a season-long rice techno demo in the ricefields of Taraka, Lanao del Sur starting this month.

The "Salam Brotherhood Farming" is a peace and food security advocacy of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) which is an expanded version of the Oplan Salam Brotherhood Program which I personally designed when I was Governor of North Cotabato to foster trust and goodwill among Christians and Muslims while improving rice production through technology sharing.

In the Cotabato model, Muslim rice farmers of Pikit were exposed to the rice farming areas in the predominantly Christian towns of M'lang and Tulunan.

After the exposure trip, the Christian rice farmers visited their Muslim brothers in Pikit for a mentoring program on modern rice farming at a time when a huge irrigation project, the JICA-funded MAL-MAR Irrigation System, was opened.

In the Taraka, Lanao del Sur model of "Salam Brotherhood," outstanding Christian rice farmers led by Danilo Bolos of Nueva Ecija, will open a 10-hectare Techno-Demo Farm which will be served by the Solar-Powered irrigation System of the Taraka local government unit.

Bolos, who holds the record of the highest yield per hectare of 16.9-metric tons using hybrid rice seeds, will be joined by other rice farmers from Nueva Ecija and Cotabato in conducting a one-day orientation on modern rice farming on Aug. 9.

After the launching of the Taraka SPIS units on Aug. 10, rice farmers from Cotabato will stay in Taraka to develop the 10-hectare rice techno-demo area for the season-long field lessons.

The "Salam Brotherhood Farming" Program initiated by MinDA aims to boost the technical skills of Maranao rice farmers in producing quality rice with higher production.

It also aims to rebuild the trust and goodwill among Christians and Muslims in Mindanao whose relationships were strained by decades of conflict.

The "Salam Brotherhood Farming" Program is also supported by the Northern Mindanao Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture, PhilMech, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Local Governments of Lanao del Sur and Taraka.

Two private hybrid rice seeds companies, US Seedworks Philippines and SL Agritech, have committed to support the project by providing seeds of US 88 and SL 20 for the demonstration farm.

A harvest festival is expected by November of this year.

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by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol

Chairman, MinDA

Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay - Less than one year after their first engagement with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the three towns in the island of Olutanga - Olutanga, Talusan and Mabuhay - have forged an alliance to give them greater strength in pursuing peace and development in what used to be a kidnappers' and pirates' lair.

Yesterday, in the capital town of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, the mayors of the three towns - Arthur Ruste of Olutanga, Orlando Ramiso of Talusan and Dr. Lulu Caloñge of Mabuhay - attended a day-long technical Meeting to institutionalise the OLTAMA Development Alliance.

Facilitated by Zamboanga Sibugay Planning Officer Engr. Vivencio Ferrer, the technical meeting finalized the Memorandum of Agreement, the manual of operations and the result matrix data gaps to enhance the Olutanga Island Agri-Fishery Development Framework Plan.

The meeting was attended by members of Board Alliance Gov Wilter Palma and 1st District Cong Wilter Palma II, members of the Sangguniang Panalawigan, three (3) mayors, three (3) vice mayors, 102nd bde, PNP, Provincial Planning Development Office.

1st District Congressman Atty Wilter Palma, II committed the construction of the PMO Bldg a multi-purpose design worth PhP 20M, Circumferential Road, Balay Silangan (Formation Center).

MinDA Chairman Sec. Manny Piñol shared his knowledge and experiences as a former governor of Cotabato Province in organising and pulling resources of local government units for a more productive, food sufficient, safe, secure environment and uplift peoples lives from poverty.

He cited the alliance of six towns in Cotabato when he was Governor, the P-PALMA Alliance, where the LGUs worked together as one with the program winning the Galing Pook Award years later.

Another program with the same concept was the SAAD or Special Area for Agricultural Development which has been adopted as a National Program of the Department of Agriculture.

In yesterday's technical meeting, the establishment of a Solar-Power Generation Plant was identified as among the priority projects of the alliance.

The weak power supply and intermittent brownouts in the island has prevented the operation of an ice plant in Talusan town which could have supported the fishing industry of Olutanga.

Also identified as a priority project yesterday was the fishing and aquaculture industry, especially the growing of Lapulapu or Grouper in fish cages which has huge potentials in the market.

MinDA technical team provided support and shepherd the alliance for what they are now as LGU Alliance where PLGU Sibugay is committed to contribute Php 1 million and the three MLGUs will share PhP300, 000 each that gives a total of 1.9 million operational budget for the PMO annually.

The target launching and MOA signing is scheduled between the dates of August 16-20, 2021.

The MinDA technical team was led by Dir. Joey Recimilla, Marlo Sullano, Oliver Legaspi, Rexell Decolongon with Area Management team-WM Carly Cerezo and Cecille La Plana and Randy Asdillo.

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by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol

Chairman, MinDA

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will officially ask the Department of Public Works and Highways this week to shed light and explanation on the indiscriminate construction of concrete islands in the middle of national highways in Mindanao, especially in the Davao-Cotabato Highway.

The MinDA official inquiry on the construction of the concrete islands costing millions in government funds will be focused on the following points:

1. What is the functional relevance of the Concrete Islands to the flow of traffic or road safety?

2. What standards or criteria were used in determining which portions of the national highways should have concrete islands?

3. What agency of government is funding the construction of the Concrete Islands and how much was allocated for the program?

4. In the identification of essential projects for the socio-economic development of Mindanao, was the construction of the Concrete Islands listed as a priority project? If so, which agency of government identified it as such?

5. Did the Regional Development Council, which by law is the processing and clearing house of all development projects, identify and endorse the projects for funding?

The official MinDA inquiry is addressed to the DPWH Secretary since all infrastructure projects, regardless of funding sources, are implemented by the agency.

The inquiry was made following my official instructions to the MinDA staff to seek clarification on the rush to build the Concrete Islands even in the face of the financial and economic challenges affecting the country.

I pointed out that the construction of the Concrete Islands in the middle of the national highway eats up at least one lane thus defeating the road widening program of government.

Most of all, it is my personal observation that the Concrete Islands do not have any beneficial function and the funds could be used for the repair and construction of other critical roads leading to agriculrural production areas.

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