A P6.6 billion program aiming to enhance the agricultural productivity of some 120,000 indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao was signed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Agriculture department Monday.

Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said the MOA would be for the implementation of the Mindanao Inclusive Agriculture Development Project (MIADP), which would enhance agricultural productivity and improve access to markets and services for farmers and fisherfolk in selected ancestral domains in the region.

He said the project would have a total cost of P6.6 billion, wherein P5.3 billion will be coming from the World Bank’s loan financing scheme.

“MIADP is designed to build the capabilities of local governments to increase the farm productivity and business opportunities of 120,000 indigenous farmers and fisherfolk in six regions across Mindanao,” Panganiban said in a statement.

“This is a project that corrects a long history of neglect on the part of our government and society,” Panganiban said.

In the agreement, the DA would be the lead the lead agency in the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and other relevant activities as well as to provide technical support and assistance and ensure that all activities will be in accordance with environmental and social safeguards.

Panganiban said the program also had a social preparation component that will capacitate IP organizations during the first year of implementation. It is expected to commence by August this year and will run until 2028.

While NCIP chairperson Allen Capuyan stressed he importance of the indigenous community in the country’s southern regions.

Capuyan said: “The IP community is a very significant sector in Mindanao. Almost one-half of the Mindanao land area is ancestral domains and also half of the Mindanao population is IP. I am very glad that the MOA signing will formalize everything so that the communities in Mindanao will become resilient, relevant and responsive.”

NCIP would be tasked to select and endorse IPs and Indigenous Cultural Communities and facilitate processes related to the conduct of the program, including the gathering of necessary data such as Ancestral Domain Title, Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim, Certificate of Ancestral Land Title and other pertinent documents.

DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Arnel De Mesa and NCIP Executive Director Mervyn Espadero were alos present during the MOA signing.

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