The European Union (EU) is supporting a 5-year program that will boost agricultural production and improve the investment climate in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The program will help agribusinesses develop products for export to BIMP-EAGA markets, such as halal-certified food products.
The EU is providing 20 million euros (about 1.14 billion pesos) to the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Programme (BAEP), which was launched this week together with the National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines (CopPhil), another EU-backed program.
Climate resilience and inclusive growth
EU Ambassador Luc Véron said both programs will “enhance climate change resilience in the Philippines while strengthening key productive sectors including agriculture and ecosystem management.” The Philippines’ Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said the BAEP will support the government’s “heightened efforts to boost farm productivity and achieve inclusive growth” in BARMM.
The region is one of the poorest in the country. BARMM was created in 2019 as part of a peace agreement to end nearly 5 decades of conflict between the government and secessionists.
The EU said the BAEP is part of its broader efforts to support a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro. For example, it is also co-financing the Mindanao Peace and Development Program (MINPAD)-RISE Mindanao program with the Government of Germany and the World Bank. Among its outputs is the strengthened capacities of agricultural cooperatives.
The BAEP will improve the quality and diversity of local agricultural production to respond better to the needs of the market and will support the transitional administration to elaborate a strategy to develop and attract investments in agribusiness. On the production side, it will work with local farmers and cooperatives to adopt more integrated farming systems using a value chain approach, thus improving their capacities to increase quantity, quality and consistency of produce throughout the year. On the commercialization side, it will support the establishment of product standard quality systems for halal and sea-aqua products. It will also put in place quality control, certification procedures and processes, and physical infrastructures, such as well-equipped modern laboratories and processing facilities.
In addition, the program will help the BARMM agri-business sector become a recognized regional player and an attractive investment opportunity by facilitating the export of agri-products and processed food within the BIMP-EAGA trade corridor.
The EU said it aims to support local competence and skills development with this program. It will promote local research and development that will focus on climate-resilient, agro-ecological farming systems, local craftsmanship, better hands-on farm management tools, improved farmer-centered and farmer-driven extension systems, and improved conservation processes as well as respect traditional and indigenous knowledge. The program will also increase women’s participation in business, open new employment opportunities, and improve incomes.
Target outcomes will be achieved through partnerships with international organizations specializing in trade promotion and certification, close collaboration with the local technical institutes, quality control services and university departments, involvement of the private sector, as well as through grants for locally based organizations, such as civil society organizations and cooperatives.
The EU will engage a technical assistance support service provider to work directly with local governmental bodies within the BARMM to improve their institutional capacities.