Emissaries from different development organizations have signified their keen interests to partner up with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MAFAR-BARMM).

Just yesterday, two significant groups met and consulted with Minister Mohammad S. Yacob on the likelihood of implementing agricultural projects in certain parts of the Bangsamoro Region.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations, through its local representatives Cocoy Sardana, Nori T. Palarca, Joy Bacal, Amil E. Kali, and Fazlurrashed S. Paslangan, has discussed with the MAFAR head the proposed projects that will look into child labor in agriculture and possible project on setting up potable water systems in selected provinces.

Ms. Sardana said they are planning to find out the prevalence of child labor in agriculture which will help them detect the causing problems and do subsequent interventions that will resolve the factors that limit agricultural productivity.

Responding to the minister’s clarification, Sardana explained that child labor in agriculture happens when they are held against their will like forcing them to work on the farm when in fact they want to go to school or when they are exposed to hazardous things and activities.

With this, Minister Yacob is positive that the project can be a venue where the parents can be educated on the limitation of their children’s involvement in farming chores and he said it will be interesting advocacy.

Mr. Palarca, on the other hand, said they are also planning to carry out a project on establishing sustainable clean water sources for the Bangsamoro people.

Minister Yacob said there is really an opportunity in water system development if its connection to agricultural advancement can be established like the possibility of utilizing wastewater for irrigation or other related purposes.

With the pressing need of the farming and fishing communities in the region, Minister Yacob gave some insights on the importance of providing cold storage facilities for the preservation of vegetable produce and fish catches.

Meanwhile, Malaysian envoys, led by Shauming Lo, CEO of Palmarinas Consultancy Corporation conferred with Minister Yacob on their proposed project on the oil palm industry in the region. The project would possibly include securing good and quality planting materials, the establishment of milling plants, and employing a number of farm workers.

Lo emphasized that the project promises endless possibilities that would also bring about progress by empowering the people through engaging integrated farming industry, creating electricity through biogas and also inculcating Islamic values among the beneficiaries.

Minister Yacob is positive that with the realization of the project, an environment can be created where people can concentrate on performing economic activities instead of doing undesirable actions. It will also entice those people, who only prefer working in the government, to also explore the benefits of working in agriculture.

Knowing that the project would require thousands of hectares of land, Minister Yacob stressed that the ministry would need to resolve agrarian reform issues first to guarantee sustainability. This includes the collection of data on land ownership and utilization and securing clean titles for the beneficiaries and workers.

“We should align our project plans with the 10-Year Agriculture and Fisheries Masterplan of BARMM that is yet to be finalized and we should always bear in mind that with every project we implement, the benefits of the people, and not of the government, are our main concern”, Minister Yacob finally remarked in his meetings.