Jampacked with constructive discussions, the first ever MAFAR Provincial Strategic Consultation cum Site Visitation in Lanao del Sur, conducted on August 7-8, 2019, ended up securing a hundred percent support from the academe and local government, inspiring the farmers, and spurring clarity and objective understanding among its combined employees from the then agriculture, fisheries, and agrarian reform agencies.


The regional team of 14 members from the ministry, headed by Minister Mohammad S. Yacob first met with President Habib W. Macaayong, DPA, the vice presidents and other key officials of the Mindanao State University (MSU) Main Campus in Marawi City. Minister Yacob expressed the team’s intent of exploring possible areas of collaboration with the university for the improvement of the indispensable sectors of the Bangsamoro Region. Dr Yacob said there is a need to strengthen the research and extension services of the ministry and with the effort to have innovative strategies to realize this, the MSU would be a very potential partner.


Satisfied by the proposal of MAFAR-BARMM, President Macaayong voiced his happiness as the ministry is about to engage the support of MSU. “We are ever ready for our partnership; we have experts from our colleges who can help you”, assured President Macaayong. The parties decided to enter into a general Memorandum of Agreement to make their partnership, in shaping the research and extension programs, legal and binding.


With the desire to get in touch with the grassroots, the team then went to Barangay Dulay, Marawi City where they met and spoke with the farming men and women of the Malimuno Dulay Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs). As announced, the established groups, with a total land area of 1,653 hectares, have received two tractors and they have also benefited from the Bangon Marawi and DAR Climate Change Programs. Referring to the farmers, Minister Yacob said “You are heroes and without you, there would be no us because we exist to serve you. It is our commitment to facilitate your needs in improving your lives”. He then reminded them that they are responsible to ensure the productivity and maintenance of the farm equipment and inputs given to them.


At the Social Hall of Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol, Minister Yacob and his team finally faced the workforces of the three provincial agencies merged under MAFAR for the provincial strategic consultation. The employees were led by Provincial Agricultural Officer Pangalian Balindong, Jr., Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer II Mesug Unda, and Provincial Fishery Officer Manioba Domaot. They were joined by Hon. Vice Governor Khalid Adiong, BTA member Musa Diamla, and UN-WFP National Program Officer Bae Sittie Aisah Cayongcat.


The conference was aimed at presenting the policy directions of the ministry that are aligned with BARMM’s Twelve-Point Priority Agenda, clarifying the issues and concerns among the employees especially on the phasing out process, identifying the good practices so with the bad ones to learn from them, and knowing the diverse problems and challenges faced by the group.


Having been called the father of MAFAR, Minister Yacob persuaded the group to become one family and support each other and be always there for one another. “I stand before you today and I feel strong and energetic because of your overwhelming presence”, Dr Yacob’s verbatim during the consultation. With strong consideration of its very high incidence in the province, Minister Yacob called for a concerted effort from among the staff in collaboration with the LGU and development partners to eradicate poverty. The youngest Vice-Governor assured the group of the local government’s 100 percent support to the programs of the MAFAR. In similar manner, Hon Diamla and Ms. Cayongcat promised to continue their undertakings to help achieve food sufficiency in the province.

Given the chance to speak freely, the employees expressed their apprehension of being removed from service and invoked the assurance of absorption in the new Bangsamoro government. With all honesty and objectivity, Minister Yacob responded to their queries by clearly stating the pros and cons of the phasing out plan.


The leader has calmed the worried employees by stating that there would be around 3000 plantilla positions to be opened in the new structure compared with the total 1,479 existing positions for the three agencies in the ARMM. He said salaries will be higher and there will be more chances for promotion. In addition, the minister cited their proposal for Php2.2Billion budget for personal services which is much higher than that of the agencies with only Php500Million. If they intend to reapply, what they need to strengthen is their documents especially their resume according to Minister Yacob.


Meanwhile, Assistant to the Minister for Policy, Planning, and Monitoring Ammal Solaiman

informed the group that the criteria or bases for appointment shall be 40% educational background, 20% experience and competency, and the remaining percentage for exam and interview. All these are geared towards attaining moral and more meaningful governance in the Bangsamoro homeland. The team then met with Honorable Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr. and exchanged possible commitments after which, Minister Yacob, with his team, headed to the Marawi City Hall ground and led the ceremonial distribution of 874 FRP boats and gardening tools to IDP farmers affected by the months-long Marawi Siege.


The procurement was done by DA-RFO 10 while distribution and monitoring shall be carried out by MAFAR which were all stipulated in the MOA signed between the two agencies on the same occasion.


The team was also able to visit the provincial agriculture, fisheries, and agrarian reform offices, greet the working forces, and identify the areas for further improvements. The team also visited the 70-hectare contiguous livestock, corn, and vegetable farm in Barangay Banga and talked to farmer-leader Akmad Tampi who serves as supplier of meat products in Marawi City.


The turmeric processing center in Panggawalupa, Ganassi was the team’s last stop where they met Hadja Fatma Zulafah Amerol, Chairperson of the Modern Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative. With its promising products that have been supplied to MSU, leading grocecies, and other big stores and pharmacies in Marawi City and SM mall in General Santos City, the center is envisioned to become an agri tourism spot.