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Friday, October 30, 2009

RP Agriculture Department, JSOTF-P sign agreement

By Lt Col Jerry Lobb, Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines Public Affairs

DAVAO, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture and the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines signed an agreement to share information and work together to improve agriculture-related, economic opportunities in Mindanao at a ceremony Oct 29.

Department of Agriculture Regional Executive Director Dr. Carlos Mendoza and Col. William Coultrup, JSOTF-P commander, signed the Administrative Procedural Agreement (APA).

“This agreement formalizes a relationship developed over several months between representatives of the Department of Agriculture and JSOTF-P civil affairs teams,” said Coultrup.

“Both organizations and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are working together to create agriculture-related economic opportunities. By offering profitable livelihoods, we hope to reduce poverty and create a more prosperous and peaceful environment in conflicted areas,” he said.

The APA commits the Department of Agriculture and JSOTF-P to share information and support each other’s efforts on humanitarian and civic action projects. Both organizations work in at-risk communities and can nominate communities for projects in poor or non-existent agricultural areas.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, presided over the ceremony held at Camp Panacan. Ferrer commented that this agreement is the first of its kind between JSOTF-P and a Philippine government organization and he expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of the two agencies.

“The Eastern Mindanao Command is grateful to both JSOTF-P and the Department of Agriculture-Mindanao Cluster. The APA on information sharing is a first for JSOTF-P and a Philippine government agency,” Ferrer said.

Two projects to establish fish ponds in Munai, Lanao del Notre and in Dato Piang, Maguindanao are in the planning phase as a result of this cooperation. The ponds were coordinated with the assistance of the JSOTF-P and the AFP, with funding from the DA and local government units.

These programs offer the people profitable livelihoods, which reduces poverty, and creates a more prosperous and peaceful environment in conflict-affected areas.

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