Agro-industry-based 'big impact' projects eyed for ARMM

January 12, 2012 11:53 pm 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Jan. 12 – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) caretaker Mujiv Hataman is finalizing its pool of planners to craft “big impact” programs and projects based on the region’s great potential in agro-industry.

Hataman told media that foreign institutions helping the ARMM government should give more focus on economy-enhancing activities based on agro-industry potentials to achieve more life-changing impact on the region’s majority marginalized populace.

ARMM information chief Ali Macabalang said that Hataman would sit down with officials of the international community upon the creation of his pool of planners to be tasked to design a comprehensive package on economic-building mechanisms.

Macabalang noted that this will be part of Hataman administration’s policy toward the ongoing multi-billion-peso interventions in the region of foreign agencies of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the United States (US) and Australia, and the financial institutions of the World Bank (WB), and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

At the local media forum in Cotabato, Hataman acknowledged the intervention of foreign institutions in the autonomous region’s concerns on bureaucracy enhancement by JICA, education and health by UN agencies, and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and peace and security by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Hataman said that after the formulation of the economy-boosting plan, he would then bring it to a meeting within his first 100 days in office with Philippine-based officials of foreign donor-agencies as a reference in his desired paradigm shift in the receipt of assistance from the international community.

The World Bank has expanded last year its services in the ARMM with additional $ 30 million financing on small-scale community-based infrastructure projects, JICA extended its assistance period to four more years in capability-building and education infrastructures, and the AusAID granted last year a P3.9-billion aid for the region’s education and health concerns in six years, records showed.

But in his analysis, Hataman said that while the current mode of foreign interventions bring about some betterment in the region, the empowerment of the ARMM’s majority poor sector in agriculture remains a dream.

He expressed hope that the foreign donor-agencies would take cognizance of the untapped potentials of agro-industry in the region as manifested in the vast track of fertile lands and aquatic resources dismally tapped.

Hataman particularly underscored the need for intervention in the receding ecology and water level of Lake Lanao, a major source of hydro-electricity and cultural heritage in Mindanao, and the vast tracks of alienable and disposable lands in Maguindanao, so with the under-tapped marine and aquatic resources of the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. (PNA) LAP/Felino M. Santos/mec

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