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Esperanza, Agusan del Sur -- The Municipality of Esperanza, an active member of LOAMCP Philippines, has ventured into strong alliances with the regional counterparts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) through its Organic Enterprises Development Center. These partnerships include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the local government unit, headed by Mayor Leonida Manpatilan, TESDA Agusan del Sur, and the Department of Agriculture Caraga Regional National Organic Agriculture Program-Coordinating Office (RNOAP-CO).

The various TESDA supported agri-related technical skills including organic agriculture skills with individual daily allowance for redirected participating combatants was formally launched on July 19, 2021.

LOAMCP shared an inspirational message to the redirected combatants/farmers referencing Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte's 2010 municipal-wide and participatory experiential-based organic Agriculture development approaches in ending the arm conflicts with the elimination of poverty and hunger to attain peace and development.

A groundbreaking ceremony of the municipality's OEDC followed and witnessed by the TESDA scholars redirected combatants/farmers, various government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

The OEDC is a key program component strategy of the municipality in the implementation of Societal Leadership and Governance in Asset Base Sustainable Organic Agriculture Municipal-wide Investment Master Plan (SLG-ABSOA-MIMP) supported by LOAMCP in partnership with LIFEBANK Foundation Inc.

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On April 1, 2021, Access Agriculture signed a strategic partnership agreement with the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMCP-PH) during a virtual signing ceremony. With the ambitious target to have 1.2 million hectares of farmland in the Philippines converted to organic by 2022, Hon. Mayor Rommel C. Arnado, President of LOAMCP, welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with Access Agriculture as a very timely event. “By giving people the opportunity to learn and earn a decent living from organic agriculture, it will help to build peace in the southern part of our country. Once we will have the Access Agriculture videos translated into Tagalog and Cebuano, it will also greatly help us to bring more young people into farming, as our farming population is aging quickly,” said Hon. Arnado. With the growing political awakening across the globe that business as usual is no longer an option if we want to secure food production for future generations, LOAMCP is a pioneer initiative that can serve as an example for the rest of the world. Through a democratic, bottom-up process, the mayors and governors from some 200 municipalities, cities, and provinces across the Philippines have become members of LOAMCP. Through this organisation they feed into the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) and influence national policies. Roughly half of the mayors are from Mindanao island and neighbouring smaller islands from Luzon and Visayas. Mindanao island has a number of the poorest regions in the Philippines with experienced of decade conflicts. However, 2 of the LOAMCP-PH member municipalities and 1 city showed the best examples of organic agriculture development as a long term municipal and city-wide societal development framework as recognized by the IFOAM-Organics International, UN FAO, World Future Council, IFOAM Asia and ALGOA. Partnerships are crucial to build sustainable food systems and are rightly included as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “Together with other lead international organisations such as IFOAMOrganics International, Regeneration International, Global Alliance for Organic Districts (GAOD), IFOAM Asia, and Asian Local Governments for Organic Agriculture (ALGOA), Access Agriculture will add value to our efforts by enabling access to highly relevant training videos on agroecology and helping us to build digital services,” said the LOAMCP Executive Director and Associate Professor, Victoriano I. Tagupa. “This is a really exciting partnership and it is up to all of us to make people feel that agriculture is also exciting. Young people like video, whether they film short clips themselves and share them on the EcoAgtube video platform, or whether they have access to the more structured Access Agriculture training videos in their own language. By doing so, we also help to keep local languages alive,” said Josephine Rodgers, Executive Director of Access Agriculture. The partnership agreement marks the beginning of an exciting journey where Access Agriculture as a global service provider will add value to a remarkable national initiative driven by local authorities.

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25 March 2020 - In the small town of Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte, Philippines, the local government encouraged distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables while the whole country is in community quarantine as a preventive measure amid the ongoing crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which claimed scores of lives across the globe. President Rodrigo Duterte, in a message to the nation during a live telecast Tuesday evening, assured government support to more than a hundred million Filipinos now directly and indirectly affected by the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases in different locations across the islands. Duterte had placed more than 7,500 islands in this southeast Asian archipelago in a state of calamity. As of 24 March, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 552 cases in total with 35 deaths including doctors who directly served affected patients between February and March 2020. About 60% of these cases have been reported in the past 5 days.

The local chief executive of Kauswagan, Mayor Rommel Arnado, is currently national president of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMCP Philippines). He has championed conversion of agricultural lands in his jurisdiction into organic farms. Such efforts significantly cut down poverty incidences in the municipality from 2012 to 2019. Arnado’s vision zeroed in on peacebuilding and sustainable development efforts by creating model organic farms managed by rebel returnees who, twenty years ago, led a series of attacks in this coastal town. In 2000, Kauswagan was epicenter of conflict between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), its faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and government forces. The whole town became a battlefield with several homes and structures burned to the ground with civilians fleeing to nearby towns and cities. Determined to make change, a roadmap for peace and development dubbed “Sustainable Integrated Kauswagan Development and Peace Agenda” or SIKAD PA, coincidentally a local word for “strive more,” was developed, tested and launched by Arnado during his first term as town mayor in 2010, at which time, the town‘s poverty incidence was at its ultimate high at 74%. Ten years into the program, an empowered and inclusive community thrives. A significant change in economic development was noted a poverty incidence significantly dropped to 4.9% in 2019. In January, the local government launched a full farming mechanizination program aimed at further boosting agriculture and farming practices in the area. “Farm mechanization is the answer to the call for food production and sustainability. We anticipate that we will not only increase production, it will increase our farmers’ income. Through this program, our farmers are able to use modern equipment which means more success can be achieved and farmlands will be maximized; production will be maximized,” said Arnado. The aims of Kauswagan at food security and sustainability has been internationally recognized. In 2016, the town was accorded the Peace Prize Award in Colombia by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). On the other hand, LOAMCP Philippines is being supported by international and local organizations aimed at replicating LGU organic agriculture successes in more towns, cities and provinces. With the abundance of produce in the area, Arnado encouraged local village chiefs to utilize this season‘s harvest to augment government sup while the whole population is in quarantine. Community lockdowns have been put in place restricting movements of people. Military and police forces are manning the streets ensuring people stay indoors. Public transportation has been limited and quarantine passes issued to families allowing only one member to leave the household at a time to get food or medicines. In the whole province of Lanao del Norte and in most cities and towns in Mindanao, as well as in Luzon island, the labor force has been put on hold posing a great threat to communities. While most people are ordered to stay home to help contain the spread of the virus, families lose the opportunity to earn a living and feed themselves and their dependents. Several community leaders and local governments across the islands are doing their best to support the citizenry at this time of crisis. While in many places processed food and/or canned goods are distributed to homes, Kauswagan has this opportunity to offer a healthy provision to affected populations.

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