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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The COVID 19 Pandemic has taught us a very important lesson that in building a sturdy and resilient economy, the nation's growth must be internally-driven and not dependent on external factors.

The other hard lesson from the Pandemic is that the often neglected and derided "dying industry" of agriculture and fisheries is actually the lifeline which could ensure the survival of the nation.

The numbers do not lie.

While the GDP registered its worst performance since World War II at negative 9.5% and all other sectors submitted negative numbers, the maligned agriculture and fisheries industry posted a positive 0.1% growth for 2020.

These numbers could be easily interpreted to mean the following:

In times of a Pandemic or a natural and man-made calamity, the global supply chain could be disrupted hence an economy which is heavily dependent on external factors (i.e. remittance from overseas workers, foreign investors and imported food supplies) could crumble;

2. A nation with an internally-driven economy and sufficient supply of locally produced goods, especially food, would be able to withstand the debilitating effect of lockdowns and disruptions in the supply chain;

3. People may not go to the movies or resorts during a Pandemic or a calamitous event but they certainly will have to eat to survive, thus agriculture and fisheries are the reserve fuel to boost the economy.

With all these realities considered, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is now working with the different agencies of government and the local government units to boost production in the agriculture and fisheries sector and ensure that impediments to the region's economic recovery are addressed and resolved.

Among the areas of focus of MinDA's interventions in coordination with the regional offices of the National Government Agencies (NGA), Government Funding Institutions (GFI) and the Local Government Units (LGU) are:

Mindanao Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Program which aims to build and develop Fish Centers in at least 26 major fishing grounds in the region. The Fish Centers to be funded both by the Philippine Government and the European Union through the MinPAD Rise Program will establish post-harvest facilities such as ice-making equipment, blast freezers, cold-storage, sardines-making machinery and fish-dryers to boost productivity. it will also promote Fish Cage Farming and vanamei production is selected areas of Mindanao;

2. Mindanao Hog Industry Development Program to be implemented in partnership with the private sector which will establish hog breeding facilities in key corn production areas of Mindanao and supply fatteners to LGU-initiated hog raising facilities in ASF-free areas of Mindanao. This program is aimed at boosting hog production in view of the massive devastation of the ASF on the hog industry in Luzon;

3. Mindanao Cattle Industry Development Program to be implemented with the support of the Australian Government under the BIMP-EAGA cooperation program between the Philippines and Australia's Northern Territory. The program will involve the different LGUs of Mindanao which will establish fattening and breeding facilities. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Government will also play a key role in this program as it aims to become the center of production of Halal Beef intended to supply the needs of the region and for export as well.

4. Mindanao Poultry Industry Development Program aims to boost chicken production, both broiler and free-range, in the different areas of Mindanao to ensure sufficient supply for the region. This is also a short-gestation food production program which will provide income earning opportunities for the farmers.

5. Mindanao Corn Industry Development Program aims to establish Grains Storage Silo Systems in the key corn production areas of the region to ensure stable supply of corn for the hog, livestock and poultry industry and also ensure profitability for the farmers. This will be complemented by the Sorghum Development Program which will also produce feed grains and silage for the Cattle Fattening and Breeding Programs.

6. Mindanao Vegetable Production Program through area-focused interventions like the IMMATASULA Complex in Bukidnon.

All of these short-gestating economic and food production programs will be supported by other initiatives like the Green Mindanao Project which promotes the planting of fruit trees in the upland areas of the region, the Banana Industry Development Program which seeks greater support to Mindanao's prime export commodity, the Coconut Industry Development Program which targets the establishment of private processing companies in key production areas, the Bamboo Industry Development Program which promotes the establishment of bamboo farms and processing facilities in the major river basins of the region and others.

To ensure the efficient implementation of these programs, MinDA will organize on Wednesday, March 31, the Mindanao Economic Recovery Facilitation Council which will be composed of the different sectors in Mindanao.

Among the key players in the Facilitation Council are the Regional Chambers of Commerce, the GFIs, the regional offices of the NGAs and the LGUs.

A Central Coordinating Office will be established and manned by MinDA to monitor and receive feedbacks on issues which may affect the economic recovery programs of the region.

The Council will also monitor the budget utilization rates of the NGA Regional Offices and the implementation of projects critical to Mindanao's economic recovery.

The GFIs and agencies with fund assistance and loaning programs will also be asked to facilitate the loan approvals and fund releases for local industries and small and medium enterprises.

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