Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte (30 January 2020) — The Municipality of Kauswagan launched here a localized farm mechanization program Wednesday aimed at improving agriculture and farming practices in the area in response to a call from President Rodrigo Duterte on massive food production in the country. A brainchild of Mayor Rommel Arnado, the program’s goal includes improvement of healthy food production, improvement of the quality of lives of local farmers, and to engage the public’s interest, especially the youth, in organic farming. Arnado is currently the National President of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines.
In a ceremony organized by the local government unit, Arnado highlighted the successes of Kauswagan’s efforts in improving food production through its Arms to Farms program launched in 2010 under the SIKAD PA initiative or the Sustainable and Integrated Kauswagan Area Development and Peace Agenda. SIKAD PA has been instrumental in the development of a spirit of convergence among stakeholders and funding institutions– a bottoms up approach in planning and budgeting which helps boost the morale of poor constituents especially in the interior and poorest among the poor barangays in the locality.
“Farm mechanization is the answer to the call for food production and sustainability as this will encourage and engage young farmers to go into farming. Not only to increase production but also to increase income through mechanized farming. We already experienced this in Kauswagan. We have been successful in engaging our farmers using the basic tools of farming. If we go on mechanization using modern equipment, the more success we could achieve and the land to be developed will be maximized, production will be maximized. Mechanization starts from land preparation, maintenance, and harvesting,” said Arnado.
Through this priority agenda of the local chief executive, a significant decline in poverty incidence was attained. In 2009, poverty incidence in Kauswagan was at 79.9% which was brought down to 47.5% in 2012 and at 9.1% based on the 2019 Community Based Monitoring System. At the same time, trust and confidence to the local government improved which resulted to significant increase in real property taxes and municipal permit and license fees collection.
On January 10, 2020, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 101 creating the National Food Policy which orders government priorities in achieving ‘zero hunger.’ This landmark effort aims to include initiatives to improve nutrition, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture.
The ceremony was attended by local farmers, LGU officials, provincial officials, and representatives from several government agencies in northern Mindanao. Vice President Leni Robredo was the keynote speaker.
“Dahil sa Arms to Farms Program ng Kauswagan, ipinakita ni Mayor Arnado na merong magandang alternatibo para hindi na mag away away. Kapag ang gobyerno ay handang tumulong sa mga naghihirap nating kababayan, naiiwasan ang kaguluhan. Ito ang modelo na ipinakita ng Kauswagan at sana ito ay maging modelo sa buong Pilipinas. Ang hindi pagkakaintindihan ay nahahanapan ng solusyon sa mas mabuting paraan,” said Robredo.
(Because of the Arms to Farms program of Kauswagan, Mayor Arnado showed to us that there are better alternatives to fighting. If the government is really willing to help our people who are suffering, conflict may be avoided. This is the model portrayed by Kauswagan and we hope that this will be a model for the whole Philippines. There are better ways of providing solutions to any misunderstanding.)
Earlier in January, Robredo reaffirmed her commitment to address food security and nutrition issues this year.
Arnado and Kauswagan’s efforts have been internationally recognized for creating a direct impact into the lives of people and improving communities. In 2016, Arnado received the Bogota Peace Prize in Colombia given by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). Such efforts were also recognized in the Future Policy Award.