BUILDING NEW HOPE. MinDA Chairman Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol, together with Maramag Mayor Jose Joel Doromal, CMU President Dr. Jose Antonio Derije and iFresh Operations and Finance Controller Ms. Noelyn Quimque, leads the ceremonial groundbreaking of the poultry/free range chicken demo farm and breeding center at the Central Mindanao University (CMU) Agricultural Hub in Bukidnon. The training center is a part of the agreement signed by MinDA, CMU, and iFresh Corporation that aims to provide economic opportunities for underdeveloped and post-conflict areas.

Maramag, BUKIDNON (Feb 18)- A memorandum of agreement between the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and Central Mindanao University (CMU), together with iFresh Corporation, was signed today for agribusiness programs that will provide livelihood opportunities to underdeveloped and post-conflict communities in Mindanao.

"To sustain the peace and development gains of the Duterte administration, we have started these intervention programs to help transform war zones into economic development zones and deliver meaningful socio-economic interventions through access to livelihood opportunities," MinDA Chairman Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

He added that these programs will help poor communities, former combatant and rebel returnees become productive and self-sufficient entrepreneurs. The program is also open to former overseas Filipino workers and victims of earthquakes which hit Mindanao last year.

Under the New Harmonizing Opportunities for People Empowerment (New Hope) Program, MinDA will collaborate with state universities and colleges, and other educational institutions in developing training centers across Mindanao.

“These centers will offer short training courses on agribusiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy,” Piñol stressed out.

After receiving training in the centers, recipients will be enrolled in the Livelihood in Villages for Economic Upliftment (LOVE-U) which is a grassroots program where beneficiaries are provided with the necessary capital to jumpstart their respective agribusiness ventures.

MinDA, together with iFresh as private sector partner, will be assisting in marketing and in linking these communities to potential buyers in both local and international markets.

Piñol said that a business group from Qatar has shown interest in buying free range chicken from Mindanao.

"This is simple and practical agriculture. We need to give people the opportunity to raise chicken not just for food, but as a way to make a living," he added.

Maramag Mayor Josel Joel Doromal describes the implementation of the programs as consistent with the Executive Order 70 Whole-of-Nation approach in governance, and in coordination with the local governments.

"These projects address development issues in all fronts - from insurgency, livelihood, to peace and order," Doromal said.

Following the signing, Piñol said that Central Mindanao University will house a learning, research, and propagation center for free range chicken and other poultry varieties, and will be instrumental in improving the Philippine chicken industry.

Dr. Jesus Antonion G. Derije said the center will also be positioned as a tourism destination with complete biosecurity features.

"We are looking at this facility as a 'chicken haven', which will showcase local varieties of chicken in Mindanao," said Derije.#

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