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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Mindanao's outstanding vegetable farmers and best seeds will be known this weekend during the final day of the IMTASULA Vegetable Derby from Dec. 10 to 12.

The awarding ceremonies will cap the season-long competition aimed at identifying seeds of Carrots, Cabbage and Chinese Cabbage most suited to the highlands of Mindanao.

The program will also award the "Carrot King," "Cabbage King" and "Chinese Cabbage King" title to farmers with the best quality vegetables.

Aside from the trophies, outstanding farmers will each receive a 15-cu.ft. home refrigerator donated by Sanden Cold Chain System Philippines.

Sanden Phils. President Osamu Ikeda will personally award the prizes to the Outstanding Farmers.

Companies with the best performing seeds will also receive trophies and commendation from MinDA.

The 1st Mindanao Vegetable Derby is a project of the Mindanao Development Authority, the Provincial Government of Bukidnon and the local government units of Impasugong, Talakag, Sumilao and Lantapan.

Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri, Vice Governor Rogelio Quiño and the Congressmen of the province are expected to grace the Festival.

A tribal ceremony by the Talaandig tribe of Bukidnon will open the ceremonies on Dec. 10.

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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Development Bank of the Phiippines (DBP) have agreed to launch a program which aims to establish bank branches or at the very least Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in key cities and towns of the Bangsamoro Region.

The new program which will be launched First Quarter of 2021 follows the successful installation of three ATMs in the compound of the Matling Industrial Commercial Corporation (MICC), one of Mindanao's oldest agro-industrial companies, and the towns of Malabang and Balabagan on Dec. 3.

During the inauguration of the three ATMs, I conferred with DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa and the Philippine National Police Regional Director for BARMM Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez and presented the idea of linking more cities and towns in the BARMM to the banking system.

I emphasized that the program, aside from allowing people in the region access to the banking system, will actually be testaments to the success of the peace efforts of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in a region which had seen conflict for more than half a century.

The support of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Western Command and the local government units will also be involved in the program.

During my initial talks with Pres. Herbosa and Gen. Rodriguez, I asked the PNP to submit a list of towns within the BARMM which are not connected to the banking system yet.

We also agreed that in remote areas of the BARMM, the ATMs will be installed in police stations, municipal halls or military camps to ensure security.

Among the first towns identified for the installation of an ATM is Pikit which belongs to North Cotabato but could serve residents of barangays which belong to the BARMM.

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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

By the Second Cropping of 2021, farmers in the corn-producing town of Baungon, Bukidnon will be freed from the fear of low prices and the absence of drying facilities.

Last week, after a 3-day workshop sponsored by the Mindanao Development Authority, Baungon Municipality, under its young Mayor Giovanni Dahino, applied for a P100-M loan from the Development of the Philippines to build the first-ever local government-owned Corn Grains Storage Silos with a storage capacity of 4-million kilos per cropping.

The establishment of Corn Grains Storage Silos in the corn producing municipalities of Mindanao is an advocacy of the Mindanao Development Authority aimed at addressing an age-old institutional problem affecting the farmers and stunting the growth of the Corn Industry in Mindanao.

The problems are very basic and everybody in the Corn Industry knows this:

1. Absence of Drying Facilities which affects the quality of the corn production and deprives farmers of a premium price;

2. Absence of storage facilities at peak harvest season whivh results in the manipulation corn prices by traders;

3. Absence of a system which could protect farmers from predatory trading practices.

The end results of these unanswered problems are:

1. Low production due to profitability issues;

2. Fluctuating prices of corn thus affecting the prices of end products like livestock and poultry feeds;

3. High poverty incidence in the farming sector.

To be operated by an Economic Enterprise Office of the local government unit, the Mindanao Corn Grains Storage Silo System (MinCOGSSS) will offer farmers a virtual refuge from very low prices during peak harvest season.

Using the “Quedan” system used by the Sugar Industry, a corn farmer may opt to “deposit” his produce in the MinCOGSSS facility and just get a partial payment based on the prevailing market price or a price set by the Economic Enterprise.

Assuming that the farmer deposits 20-metric tons, he could get an advance of P10 per kilo or P200,000 and a “Quedan” document covering his corn deposit.

At off-harvest when the price of corn is expected to rise to say P15 per kilo, the farmer could surrender his “Quedan” and get the difference between the advanced amount and the selling price, less the drying and storage fees to be charged by the Economic Enterprise.

The MinCOGSS Program is being proposed by MinDA for inclusion in the Mindanao Rise Program funded by the European Union. Four pilot areas have been identified.

With Baungon town as the pilot area and model, MinDA’s Mindanao Corn Industry Development Program aims to establish Corn Grains Storage Silos with dryers in all corn-producing towns of Mindanao.

All of these MInCOGSSS member-municipalities will be linked up through a digital platform which would provide stakeholders an update on available supply and pricing on a daily basis.

The MinCOGSSS is expected to increase corn productivity in Mindanao as farmers would be assured of a good return for their produce.

This would also make the poultry and livestock industry competitive. Most of all, this would empower Mindanao Corn Producers who for the first time could dictate the price.

Some may ask: Why was this not done before or when Manny Piñol, the main proponent of the concept, was Agriculture Secretary.

The answer would be an indictment of a lumbering bureaucracy which is slow to adjust to problems in the field.

Any innovation in Agriculture would take years before being adopted as it would have to go through intense scrutiny by people who do not even understand agriculture.

A perfect example of this is the Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) program introduced by the Department of Agriculture and embraced by the farmers. Even with a standing offer from the Israeli Government for a low-interest loan of P44-B to fund SPIS units intended to irrigate 500,000-hectares, the program is still in limbo.

Any new program which goes through the national bureaucracy will take years before adoption and implementation.

On the other hand, local government units, given their fiscal autonomy, are more flexible.

New programs and innovations could be implemented by simply enacting an Ordinance adopting it and allocating funds using available budget or loan proceeds.

In Mindanao, Self-Reliance and Problem-Based Innovations are the guiding policies and the battle-cry.

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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Malabang, Lanao del Sur - One of Mindanao's oldest agricultural companies established in the 1900s by American Thomasites and two municipalities in Lanao del Sur were connected to the banking network for the first time yesterday with the installation of three Automated Teller Machines (ATM) by the Development Bank of the Philippines.

DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa, along with officials of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Mayors of Balabagan and Malabang, Lanao del Sur and officials of the Matling Industrial Commercial Corporation (MICC).

MICC, established in the 1900s by a member of the American Thomasites, Ralph Edmund Spencer, processes Cassava Starch from Cassava produced by the company and the farmers in several towns of Lanao del Sur.

The establishment of the ATMs yesterday was the culmination of the effort of the Mindanao Development Authority to address the problems of Cassava farmers and the residents of several towns who had to travel for about 100 kilometers to either Pagadian City or Cotabato City for their bank transactions.

Farmers who were paid by MICC with checks had these rediscounted with money exchange outlets in the area who charged a 5% transaction fee.

Last year, when I visited MICC, this problem was brought to my attention and immediately a team was formed to work on the proposal to establish either a branch of DBP or at least an ATM in the area.

When the mayors of Malabang, Mohammad Yahya Macapodi, and Balabagan, Dr. Edna Ogka-Benito, learned of the MinDA efforts to establish an ATM in the MICC, they submitted resolutions that separate ATMs be installed in their municipalities.

The Mayors hailed the immediate action of DBP and the help of MinDA which resulted in the establishment of the ATMs both installed inside the municipal building.

"I actually talked to two previous Presidents about this problem and nothing happened. It is only now under this administration that we finally have this," MICC Chief Executive Officer Alex Mancilla told me yesterday during the inauguration of the MICC ATM.

Mancilla said there were attempts in the past to establish bank branches in Malabang but all of these failed.

"One bank opened in the 1990s and after three days, it closed. Land Bank operated for three months, then they left," he said.

Ace Mancilla-Gaccad, Chief Operations Officer of MICC, said she never believed her dream of a banking facility in the area to help their farmer-producers and the company as well would ever come true.

The actual work on the ATM project was started late last year but the actual site inspection was done in August at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Western Command under Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan and the Philippine National Police under Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez were engaged, along with the Philippine Marines, to provide security support.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) through the Office of the Chief Minister, Ahod Murad Ebrahim, was also engaged in the project.

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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Low-lying areas in the different River Basins of Mindanao, the main sources of agricultural products, could suffer from floods worse than those which hit Luzon recently unless government agencies coordinate and consolidate programs and project.

In the recent 4th Mindanao River Basin Management Council (MRBMC) meeting held at the Provincial Capitol of North Cotabato convened by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), I submitted an observation that government efforts to address the perennial flooding in Mindanao River Basins lacked coherence and coordination.

The three major agencies involved in the preventing flooding - Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture - have spent some P6-B for projects implemented over the last few years.

The huge government expenditure, however, has not even lessened the flooding and the damage caused to agriculture and the livelihood of residents in the low-lying areas.

After a two-hour reporting on the accomplishments of the three agencies, I recommended to the MRBMC Chairman Orlando Cardinal Quevedo that the recommendation of the Council for the creation of the Mindanao River Basin Development Authority (MRBA) should be pursued.

With the concurrence of North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco who hosted the event, the following measures were submitted the the MRBMC:

1. The immediate dredging and de-clogging of the major rivers to ensure the free-flow of water, especially in the Central Mindanao Area where the major rivers are choked by water hyacinths;

2. The establishment of water catchment basins, small dams, levees and water impounding to mitigate the sudden rush of floodwater to the lower portions of the basins, a measure which could also be beneficial to agriculture;

3. The construction of levees and river embankments to manage and direct the flow of flood water and minimize damage to agriculture;

4. Strict implementation of forestry laws, including legal actions to be taken against those who encroach into critical watershed areas;

5. A serious, effective and well-planned program to grow trees in the deforested highlands, watersheds and mountains, including the growing of fruit trees.

6. Finally, the creation of the singular agency which will coordinate the implementation of these programs through an Executive Order to be issued by President Rody Duterte because of the urgency of the problem.

Satellite maps showing the thinning forest cover and the expanding flood hazard areas in Mindanao stressed the need to immediately implement the recommendations.

The Council will meet again in the First Quarter of 2021 to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations with the resolve that any delay could result in a disaster.

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