COTABATO CITY (Oct. 24, 2023, John Unson) — Nine members of the Bangsamoro parliament filed on Monday a bill meant to “institutionalize and perpetuate” regional government interventions needed to empower the agriculture sector in all six provinces under its jurisdiction.
The Public Information and Communications Team of the 80-seat regional parliament announced on Tuesday that the Bill 260, principally authored by Amir Mawallil, aims to establish a comprehensive framework for connectivity of constituent-farmers with agencies of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that ought to provide them sustained support to boost their productivity.
“Agriculture is one of the economic strengths of the autonomous region. The bill promises to build a more robust industry that can ultimately help our farmers,” Mawallil said
Regional planning officials said no less than 60 percent of BARMM’s Moro, non-Moro and indigenous residents rely on propagation of short-term crops, orchard trees and coconut palms as main sources of income.
If enacted into law, Bill 260 shall compel the Bangsamoro government, through its Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, to establish facets that can directly connect to farmers in need of essential support and technical services.
Farmers in BARMM, covering provinces that were originally under the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that existed for 29 years, have long been ranting about lack of access to provincial and municipal offices of agencies that can help bail them out from poverty and underdevelopment.
The Bill 260 aims to cut the bureaucratic layers separating ministries of BARMM and the impoverished farmers and fisherfolk in coastal areas in the autonomous region and those in Bangsamoro towns along central Mindanao’s upland 220,000 hectare Liguasan Delta.
Governors Jim Salliman of Basilan and Mamintal Adiong, Jr., of Lanao del Sur, had separately assured to support the Bill 260 that Mawallil and co-authors filed at the regional parliament Monday.
Salliman said their provincial government has examples of how it is helping empower its constituent Muslim and Christian farmers via their educational greenhouses and drip-irrigated demonstration farms in strategic sites in the island province that can be replicated in other parts of the autonomous region.
Basilan also has rubber processing plants established by the provincial government where owners of small rubber tree farms can have their dried latex processed cheaply.
Adiong said he is thankful to Mawallil and his eight colleagues in the Bangsamoro parliament, Hashemi Dilangalen, Hamid Malik, Rasol Mitmug Jr., Laisa Alamia, Baintan Ampatuan, Don Mustapha Loong, Suharto Ambolodto, and Rasul Esmael, for cooperating in drafting Bill 260.
“That can empower our farmers in the autonomous region,” Adiong said.
Photo show demonstration greenhouse of the Basilan provincial government in Isabela City in the island province. (JOHN UNSON)