The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) has made history after convening more or less 500 people from the government, the farmers and fishers, civil society organizations, and other private institutions for the first Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Food Security Summit held at the Al Nor Convention Hall, Cotabato City on December 10-12, 2019.
With the theme “Bangsamoro ay Paunlarin; Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita, Halal at Organikong Pagkain ay Siguruhin”, the summit was highlighted by the participation and messages of support personally manifested by officials from the BARMM government and national offices. Product display of different sorts and origins added colors and excitements to the partakers of the summit. Thirty-two exhibitors from the different provinces of BARMM and nearby provinces and cities participated and flaunted their raw and processed agricultural products from rice, vegetables, fruits, to native delicacies and handicrafts.
The summit also featured the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal of MBHTE and Minister Mohammad S. Yacob of MAFAR for the establishment of the “Gulayan sa Paaralan’ Program in 200 schools in BARMM. Apart from this, a MOA was also signed between Minister Yacob and Executive Director John C. De Leon of the Philippine Rice Research Institute for the implementation of the seed program under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Program.
Awarding of the outstanding organic agriculture advocates was also done during the summit where outstanding municipality, focal persons, agricultural extension worker, and small farmer were recognized and were given rewards. It included the recognition of Provincial Agricultural Officer Mercyan A. Aspi, who was Civil Service Commission’s 2019 Ulirang Lingkod Bayani in Sulu. The participants of the summit were grouped by province with added team from the 63 barangays of North Cotabato that are now under the BARMM. They actively took part in the workshop that made possible the identification and documentation of the issues and challenges in agriculture and fisheries per major commodity, needed policies, programs, projects, and activities, and support/commitment from MAFAR, LGUs, and other stakeholders.
MAFAR Minister Mohammad S. Yacob, who led the conduct of the summit, declared the event historic as it has never been done in the Bangsamoro Region. He said the summit was organized with the purpose of sharing the directions of the BARMM chief minister that envisions a Bangsamoro that is socio-economically stable, resilient and globally competitive with the mission of empowering the farmers and fishers thereby ensuring equitable access to quality services and optimum economic benefits.
The MAFAR chief also shared that the ministry is championing the development of the Food Security and Nutrition in BARMM envisioning a self-reliant, food secure, and resilient Bangsamoro that is in harmony with the theme of the summit. This is in collaboration with the World Food Programme of the United Nations (UN-WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (UN-FAO) and the other BARMM ministries and agencies. Minister Yacob also explicitly presented and explained the MAFAR Policy Directions for the coming year 2020. “This is just the beginning of our journey towards attaining our shared vision as ‘One Bangsamoro’; I enjoin everyone to continue their commitment in helping us ensure that no one is left behind in this journey”, added Minister Yacob.
Abdullah M. Cusain, BARMM Assistant Executive Secretary, represented Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim, Al-Hadj as the keynote speaker of the summit. He delivered the message of the chief minister that emphasized the essence of food security that is when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Meanwhile, Dr Sailila E. Abdula, DA-Assistant Secretary for BARMM, represented Secretary William D. Dar of the Department of Agriculture (DA). He presented the secretary’s new thinking in agriculture through the eight paradigms to level up the sector such as modernization, industrialization, promotion of export, consolidation of farm produce, infrastructure development, higher budget and investment, legislative support, and roadmap development.
On the other hand, Fatma M. Idris, BFAR-XI Regional Director and Usec Carim L. Panumpang, DAR Undersecretary for Special Concerns representing BFAR National Director Commodore Eduardo B. Gongona and DAR Secretary Atty. John R. Castriciones, respectively, extended their utmost support to the summit.
With Minister Yacob, the officials actively participated in the press conference facilitated by RAFID of MAFAR-BARMM, whereby queries of the media partners were appropriately addressed.
Resource speakers from the national offices and from the ministries presented significant topics on improving the agri-fishery sectors in BARMM. The presentations were Understanding Halal: Where Faith and Science Intersect, Halal Food Industry Development Program, Climate-Smart Agriculture, Golden Rice, ACEF in BARMM, RCEF, Fall Army Worm, Food Security and Challenges of Fisheries Sector in BARMM, Status of Land Distribution in BARMM, and Significance of ARCs in Attaining Food Security. These were delivered by Dr Norodin Kuit, Adviser, Halal Program Management Office, Dir. Clint D. Hassan, DA-Halal Program, Dr Sailila Abdula, Dr Reynante L. Ordonio, PhilRice Scientist 1, Dr Rogelio Bahinting of MAFAR-BARMM, Engr. Roy Abaya, Director, DA-Field Operations Service, Dr Lorenzo M. Caranguian, Director, DA-National Corn Program and MAV, Lainie Baraocor, Planning Officer III of BFAR-National, Jarra M. Radjid, MAFAR Regional Planning Officer, and Datu Musiban M. Solano, Assistant to the Minister for Agrarian Reform, respectively.
Open Forums were carried out to give way and opportunity for the participants to ask questions and make necessary clarifications on the topics. These were facilitated by Dr Daud K. Lagasi, Al-Hadj, MAFAR Director for Operations and Dr Macmod M. Mamalangcap, MAFAR Assistant to the Minister for Fisheries.
The summit ended with a comprehensive and challenging closing message from Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo of MILG where he clearly stated the essence of moral governance and how it is implemented and ensured in the BARMM.

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