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EU-BARMM ‘Agri-Enterprise Program’ to support small farmers, agri-enterprises

Representatives from different ministries and offices in BARMM, together with the delegates of the European Union (EU) to the Philippines, joined hands to launch the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Program (BAEP) in Cotabato City for marginalized farmers and agribusiness in the region. (Photo courtesy of MAFAR-BARMM)

COTABATO CITY (PIA) -- The European Union (EU) to the Philippines and the Bangsamoro government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR-BARMM) on Monday, Jan. 15, launched the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Program (BAEP) to support small farmers and agri-enterprises in the region.

BAEP is a P1.23 billion five-year program funded by the EU in support of building lasting peace and promoting inclusive development in the Bangsamoro region.

MAFAR Minister Mohammad Yacob noted that BAEP will help address the challenges in the agriculture sector, including low agricultural productivity, outdated farming technology, and inconsistent farm incomes.

“The components and projects that make up this program are not mere strategies; they represent a collective commitment to the progress of the BARMM agri-business sector,” Yacob said.

The project will specifically support small to medium-sized producers and businesses in the agri-fishery value chains, particularly in the island provinces.

MAFAR-BARMM Minister Mohammad Yacob, during his welcome message, shared some of the benefits of the BAEP project for farmers and agri-enterprises in the Bangsamoro region. He also mentioned the main challenges faced by the farmers that the BAEP project needs to address. (Photo courtesy of MAFAR-BARMM)

Adopting a two-pronged approach, BAEP is poised to address the challenges on both the production and commercialization sides in the Bangsamoro region.

Yacob said that on the production side, the focus of the program includes mapping local value chains, training farmers for quality and diversified production, establishing pilot social enterprises, and improving processing and logistic facilities.

On the other hand, on the commercialization side of the program, the official said it will be geared more toward assisting the MAFAR and the Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism (MTIT) in facilitating the export of agricultural products within the BIMP-EAGA trade corridor.

According to him, this includes setting product standard quality systems, procedures, and controls, especially for Halal and sea-aqua products.

“The envisioned outcome is for BARMM to establish itself as an effective and recognized regional player and an attractive investment opportunity,” Yacob explained.

The EU Ambassador to the Philippines, Luc Véron, uttered a message of support during the launch of the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Program as he reaffirmed the EU's commitment to supporting the attainment of sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro region. (Photo courtesy of MAFAR-BARMM)

Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron stated that BAEP will help strengthen socio-economic development in the region and address the main challenges faced by farmers and small-scale companies in the agribusiness sector.

“BAEP will provide support to the BARMM government in delivering peace dividends to communities in the region, in particular in isolated places that often feel left behind,” Véron pointed out.

BAEP is a special project modality that will be implemented by five development agencies or partners, including the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Office of Migration (IOM), People in Need-Clovek, and OXFAM.

In line with this, a project committee will also be set up to provide oversight and review progress, which will include the MAFAR, MTIT, Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), and United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD). (LTB – PIA Cotabato City)

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