FAO Provides Livelihood Programs for Affected Communities of El Niño in Mindanao

FAO Provides Livelihood Programs for Affected Communities of El Niño in Mindanao

In response to the El Niño phenomenon experienced in Mindanao, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has provided farm loads to an additional 5,500 small-scale farming households and improve the resilience of areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region XII-SOCCSKSARGEN.


FAO Representative in the Philippines, José Luis Fernández stated, “We have just completed the distribution of certified rice seeds, corn seeds, fertilizer and vegetable seeds in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. These inputs will allow them to re-start their livelihood activities and grow food for household consumption.”

About 101,000 hectares of crop areas in these four provinces were suffering from El Niño, which cost in USD 17.9 million of production loss in the months of February 2015 to July 2016, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The FAO program complements the DA’s Regional Field Office XII and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM) efforts to respond to the effect of El Niño across 16 regions of the Philippines.

A farmer-technician from Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Rahib Mamaluba said, “We were affected by drought especially because the El Niño was so long and it happened at the same time as the rat infestation. Many of the farmers here experienced a 30 to 40 percent reduction in yield.”

FAO is conducting a training program on drought management, improved crop production, and resilience to climate stress, this to develop the disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation capacities of beneficiary communities. This program helps about 100 DA and local government agricultural technicians. Local farmer trainers are expected to replicate the workshops in their respective barangays.

A farmer from Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, Jalani Pagital stated, “This is giving us confidence because even before a calamity strikes, we already have an idea how we should prepare.”

Livelihoods in Maguindanao and North Cotabato were destroyed by natural and man-made disasters, including relocation due to armed conflict, drought, and flooding. FAO had an earlier project that ended last June 2016, the organization worked closely with DA and DAF-ARMM to offer assistance to 5,000 farming and fishing households in the region.

To help increase their household income, women were also trained in alternative livelihoods such as water hyacinth crafts production, post-harvest, and value-adding techniques.

Mamaluba stated, “Because of the assistance we received and what we have learned from the training, hopefully someday there would no longer be poor farmers in our community.”

Around 54,300 farming households in Luzon and Mindanao who were affected by drought and disastrous typhoons received assistance from FAO as of today.

In addition to FAO internal funding of around USD 1 million, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium (through FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities) and reprogrammed savings from other FAO emergency response and resilience projects funded by the governments of Ireland, New Zealand, and Norway contributed USD 1.6 million, this made the FAO program possible.

The Government of New Zealand funded an on-going project worth USD 3 million. With this, FAO is prepared to offer crop, livestock, poultry and fisheries production loads to 10 475 farming and fishing households in North Cotabato. Communities will also benefit from training in climate-smart practices, disaster preparedness, alternative livelihoods and product value-addition. Assistance will be carried out until October 2017.

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