by Lou Ellen L. Antonio
KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte (PIA)--The Arms to Farms program of the local government unit (LGU) will take center stage at the highly anticipated 6th Organic Asia Congress (OAC), set to take place this June.
The congress serves as an esteemed international event that brings together local governments and organic sectors from around the world to discuss and advance organic agriculture practices.
With the theme "Building World Peace through Organic Agriculture: Food Security Vital to Peace Building," the congress will showcase Kauswagan's innovative "Arms to Farms" program. Implemented by the LGU, this program utilized organic agriculture as a tool to reintegrate former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants back into society and foster peace and development.
"Our area has suffered so much. We investigated, and we processed what we investigated with regards to why we have this kind of rebellion. The bottom line is that the community is hungry; there was hunger with poverty. That is what we addressed in our Arms to Farms program. We addressed hunger. We use organic agriculture as our tool in order to address the issue of hunger, and we were very successful in that," said Mayor Rommel Arnado.
Meanwhile,Municipal Agriculture Officer Adelino Rico said that the program has successfully become a pathway for restoring trust between the Maranaos and Christians by fostering cooperation and mutual respect, leading to a more harmonious and unified community. He shared that the program transformed the battlefields into a flourishing hub of food production.
"What makes the program unique is that there is no surrender of firearms; just surrender your heart. Ang Arms to Farms naging daan narerestore naibalik ang trust ng dalawang kultura, dalawang tribo the Christians and Maranaos," he said.
(What makes the program unique is that there is no surrender of firearms; just surrender your heart. Arms to Farms became the way to restore the trust of two cultures and two tribes, the Christians and Maranaos)
To showcase the success of organic agriculture in the municipality, farm tours will be organized. One of the featured farms will be the Cayontor’s Farmer's Association in Barangay Cayontor, led by Aga Dimakuta, also known as Commander Bapa, a former MILF combatant who joined in the all-out war that occurred in 2000. Today, he serves as a councilor in Kauswagan and is not only making strides in farming but also ensuring a better future for his children through education.
"Dako kaayo ang tabang sa mga katawhan sama sa akoa sa akoang mga kauban nga nakaahon sa kahirapan kaning kalisud tungod kay na maintain na gyod namo ang pag farmer sa amoang panginabuhi sa amoang barangay," said Dimakuta.
(This program has been a lifeline for people like me and my colleagues who have overcome poverty by sustaining our livelihood through farming)
Through the Arms to Farms program, beneficiaries receive subsidies and comprehensive training in technical skills related to organic farming. The LGU also ensures free access to essential resources such as tractors, fuel, and agricultural inputs. Additionally, the LGU takes charge of purchasing and marketing organic products through the organic trade post. (LELA/PIA-10/Lanao del Norte)