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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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