Tuesday Jun, 15 2021 05:44:37 AM

UN helps BARMM implement KKB agri project 

Mindanao Peace Process • 14:00 PM Thu May 20, 2021
John M. Unson
Visiting dignitaries inspect pumpkins produced by former Moro guerillas in a farm in Sultan Kudarat town. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO --- There is this “arms-to-farms” initiative supported by the World Food Programme converting into productive agricultural enclaves the lands where Moro rebels and government forces had fought deadly battles.

The WFP, known as the “food assistance branch” of the United Nations, is the world’s largest provider of food for communities in conflict and calamity-stricken areas.

WFP representatives and officials of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao inspected Wednesday the Kayod ka Bangsamoro (KKB) project in Barangay Nekitan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and found out that members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the area now produces Lakatan table bananas and vegetables in bulk.

The Bangsamoro government was represented in the event by the deputy minister of MENRE-BARMM, Akmad Brahim, and the ministry’s assistant regional secretary, Alindatu Pagayao.

Barangay Nekitan was a bivouac area of Moro rebels during the Southern Mindanao secessionist conflict in the 1970s.

The sides of the farm trails that lead to the center of the barangay then was dotted with booby traps and home-made landmines, according to elderly residents.

“It is exciting to see the progress happening around. The Bangsamoro has lands that can be made productive,” Brenda Barton, WFP’s country director in the Philippines, said.

The KKB project is a joint initiative of the WFP, the MENRE-BARMM under Minister Abdulrauf Macacua, the region’s agriculture ministry and the office of Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim.

Spouses of MILF members residing in the area told the visiting WFP officials, among them Melina Nathan, senior UN peace adviser, that their husbands now earn no less than P30,000 cash monthly from banana production.

“It is the buyers that come around to procure bananas from MILF members here. The buyers buy in bulk and pay in cash,” Brahim, a senior member of the front, said.

Pinagayao said the productivity now of MILF members in Barangay Nekitan is just an initial dividend of the front’s peace process with Malacañang.

“This area was a battle zone in the early 1970s,” Pinagayao said.

Brahim said Air Force planes had dropped hundreds of bombs on strategic spots in the barangay to flush Moro rebels out.

Pinagayao and Brahim separately said their focus now is how to connect former MILF combatants to buyers of vegetables in trading hubs in Cotabato City and in nearby municipalities.

The hostility between the government and the MILF ended with the crafting of the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro by both sides after about 20 years of peace talks.

The two documents paved the way for the creation of BARMM that has a congressional charter, the Republic Act 11054, most known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Ebrahim, the appointed chief minister of BARMM, is the chairman of the MILF’s central committee.

Some of the former MILF combatants now thriving as farmers in Barangay Nekitan are children of his followers who fought the government during the 1970s.



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