MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) allocated P230 million to convert some idle ancestral lands into food production areas.
The funds will go to Bigas-Mais (BigMa), a rice-corn blending project by listed firm AgriNurture Incorporated (ANI). The company is partnering with groups of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Mindanao.
“We have [an] additional P230-million fund to provide livelihood opportunities for IPs in partnership with the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples),” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in an online briefing last Friday, May 8.
ANI plans to develop some 20,000 hectares of idle ancestral lands for white corn production, with the cost of the investment yet to be disclosed.
The white corn to be planted would then be blended with rice from the National Food Authority.
The BigMa rice-corn blending project is seen as a way to help reduce the Philippines’ dependence on imported rice. The country is still the world’s top rice importer.
NCIP data show IPs occupy around 7.7 million hectares of land, or about a quarter of the country’s total land area of 30 million hectares. Only IPs have the right to develop, control, or use their ancestral lands.
The DA has given an assurance that forestland would not be touched. – Rappler.com