DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agricultural Development (MinSAAD), a project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), opens prospects for Mindanao farmers to sell their products on a larger scale via the Usapang Kalakalan Forum held Tuesday at the Apo View Hotel here.

Alvin Obrique, DAR-MinSAAD’s spokesperson during a news conference the day before shared that the event is part of the P4.4 million project to bring development to communities especially in far-flung areas. The Usapang Kalakalan is a five-year project and funded by the government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Beneficiaries are pegged at 110,000 households within Regions 10, 11 and 12; all in Mindanao. The project hopes to increase agricultural activity, product value and income through various “interventions” such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and water systems. The project is intended for agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Although we are concerned of the agrarian reform beneficiaries since this is a settlement, we are using the principle of inclusivity which includes all the farmers, all the settlers inside the seven provinces,” said Obrique.

He said that prior to the “intervention,” the roads going to the community is inaccessible and they have no means of selling their produce outside their areas. In 2014, the project started to put up farm-to-market roads in some areas the project targeted. Various government agencies worked for its completion.

Obrique said that out of the 27 municipalities, two more areas await their farm-to-market roads as DAR is still processing the application.

Currently, MinSAAD is focused on the agricultural and agribusiness activities with the aim “to transform farmers into entrepreneurs.”

“We have already budgeted P333.5 million to fund the 100 sub projects on rubber, coffee, cacao, vegetables, fruits and even equipments that could help level up their product,” said Obrique.

He said their strategy is to “progressively provide intervention based on their need per period of development.”

Tuesday’s Usapang Kalakalan Forum is one of the many activities they launched for the farmers; and introduce them to the business in agriculture, the right technology and to have a direct discussion with possible clients.

Theoffany Joy Cabanda, a marketing expert connected with MinSAAD told Davao Today that there is a demand for high quality agricultural products in the country. In fact, she said, companies like Iligan City’s Chedeng’s as well as Peanut Kisses of Bohol are using imported peanuts in their products because “the locally produced did not pass the company’s standards.”

MinSAAD’s Cabanda said that one of the aims of Tuesday’s event is that “the buyers themselves would present their

needs in terms of product quality, and how to come up with a win-win solution so that businesses can assist the farmers at the production level.”

MinSAAD aims for quality matching for both farmers and buyers as “it is the best opportunity for collaboration to get high-quality products and contribute in improving the living conditions of the farmers.” (davaotoday.com)

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