COTABATO CITY—Business opportunities were presented to highland farmers in BARMM as they attended an investments forum on Tuesday, spearheaded by the regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments (BBOI).
In collaboration with Member of Parliament Suharto M. Ambolodto, the forum aimed to look for fair and inclusive investment opportunities to all farmers regardless of religion, groups, or tribes in the region.
Mostly, Teduray farmers from tri-municipalities of South Upi, North Upi and Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, attended the forum.
BBOI Board of Governor Mohammad Pasigan said, “our target this time are farmers residing in the upland of the region in order to guide them in finding markets for their crops and to link them on the programs and services of both government and non-government agencies to decide on either start-up their new farm investments or to level-up their routine farming crops to generate more income.”
Highland farmers rely mainly on corn, upland rice and vegetable plantation as well as fruit bearing plants including durian, coffee, coconut trees, etc.
Mr. Felino V. Samar, executive secretary of Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affair (MIPA), was thankful to the convenor in providing the said “rare” forum to the highland farmers, which demonstrated the commitment of the regional government on the principles of “inclusivity” as well as “there should be no left behind in BARMM”.
“I am encouraging our fellow highland farmers to consider the idea of planting Cardava banana in our farmlands aside from our routine corn crops because it might give us the opportunity to increase our farm income since we learned that it is a lifetime investments with low maintenance cost,” Samar said.
Likewise, farmer Manuel Lalison of Barangay Labungan, Datu Odin Sinsuat and Mr. Guiamel Campong of North Upi encouraged their fellow farmers to avail of the opportunities to shift their current less harvest farmlands into new promising technology of Cardava banana plantation.
“We tilled our farmlands for so long now in our traditional ways of cropping but our income still remain mysterious, less progressive,” farmer Lalison said.
To address this, Atty. Ishak Mastura, BBOI chairman, reiterated their full cooperation with MP Ambolodto as partner in sharing the investment opportunities in the localities in an effort to meet regional economic growth and development.
Meanwhile, the Harnessing Agribusiness opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) Program of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in partnership with LandBank of the Philippines (LBP), provided capital loan assistance to farm and business ventures at very low interest rate in BARMM.
HARVEST Program is a five-year relending facility that will give private enterprises access to a credit line with LandBank for their capital investments, operations, expansion initiatives and agriculture-related projects that support agri-related economic activities in the region. (Bangsamoro Information Office)