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Bangsamoro Government and WFP welcome Rice Contribution from Japan

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MANILA – The Government of Japan has announced they will donate rice worth JPY 350 million (approx. PHP 162 Million or USD 3.2 Million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Government. The donation will support farming and fishing households, including decommissioned combatants, indigenous people and their families facing food-insecure in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

The donation was formalised at a ceremony held yesterday at the Department of Foreign Affairs office in Pasay City, Manila, at which the Exchange of Notes were signed by Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines and Brenda Barton, WFP Representative and Country Director. The event was witnessed by Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); Acting Secretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); and Deputy Minister Ammal Solaiman, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform -- BARMM.

"Japan commends the WFP for its collaboration with us to provide Japanese rice to the BARMM people and for increasing productivity in the field of agriculture and fisheries through this project. We have every confidence that this project will contribute not only to food and nutrition security but also to the stabilization of daily life in Mindanao. I trust that with the WFP's unique expertise in food security, nutrition, and peacebuilding, the BARMM region will enjoy the dividends of peace," says Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines.

Through this exchange of notes, the Government of Japan will provide, through WFP, 1,778 MT of rice to the Bangsamoro Government. This is enough for 9,877 farming and fishing households or approximately 49,385 individuals. Selected participants will participate in food assistance for assets (FFA) activities identified in consultation with local communities and authorities in the BARMM region, receiving 60kg of rice over a three-month period.

"Tackling hunger through livelihood and income-generating opportunities is a foundation for stability and peace," said Brenda Barton, WFP Representative and Country Director, noting WFP was the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. "This contribution from Japan is crucial to supporting social cohesion and building peace in BARMM, for without peace, we cannot hope to end hunger. Food is a pathway to peace."

WFP uses a humanitarian-development-peace (HDP) nexus approach to improve food security, nutrition, agricultural productivity and livelihoods while fostering mutual trust and strengthening community cooperation. WFP's projects engage farmers and fisherfolk from different communities, including those affected by conflict, such as indigenous people, and decommissioned and soon-to-be decommissioned combatants, to help consolidate and enhance peace and development.

With the Japanese rice donation, WFP will also provide technical assistance to BARMM to set up 'buy-back schemes' through programmes which source locally-produced food for school feeding programmes, including iron-fortified rice which is critical to address micronutrient deficiencies. BARMM has the highest rates of stunting amongst children under-five in the Philippines - 39 percent vs. 29 percent nationally. Anaemia prevalence, which stands at 15 percent country-wide, is also on the rise amongst school children.

With this donation, agricultural produce grown by project beneficiaries will be procured by the BARMM government for their feeding programmes, providing an assured market for farming communities while ensuring fresh, nutritious food for school children.

"It is a fulfilment of WFP's commitment under the Convergence Model in which WFP and relevant BARMM ministries collaborate to implement greening activities to achieve regional ecological integrity while welcoming former combatants back into society as productive contributors to the local economy," says Deputy Minister Ammal Solaiman, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform -- BARMM.

The assistance from the Government of Japan will be aligned to key objectives and strategic priorities of the Philippine and Bangsamoro Government, contributing to Zero Hunger SDG and lasting peace in the region. As part of the 2021 Food Systems Summit, the Philippines Government signed a declaration of support to be part of the School Feeding Coalition -- timely ahead of the Japan-hosted "Nutrition for Growth Summit" in December 2021.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world's largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

WFP in the Philippines re-established its presence in the country in 2006 at the request of the Government to support the ongoing peace process in the Mindanao region. WFP works closely with the government, other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and communities to improve long-term food security while assisting people and communities to build resilience and be better prepared for the consequences of disasters. CLICK HERE to read more.