From Arms to Farms: Fostering Peace thru Agri-Fishery Development in Conflict Areas in Mindanao

Director Saliot with former MILF Commander Ismael Sarif

Serving as the extension arm of the Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), led by its Director Dr. Asterio P. Saliot, has come up with an intervention that reaches out to the rebels and rebel returnees especially in the Southern part of the Philippines.

Aiming to provide agricultural extension service to help these target beneficiaries in developing their lands into diversified and integrated farms, the ATI came up with a program entitled "From Arms to Farms: Fostering Peace through Agriculture and Fisheries Development in Conflict Areas."

Initial undertakings were held in Lanao Del Norte where trainings, seminars and other interventions are being planned to encourage the rebel returnees to manage their own farms instead.

Winning the hearts of rebel returnees - this new concept of surrender in inviting former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commanders to put their hearts and dedication to farming activities has been the most effective way in promoting peace in a community in Mindanao.

The ATI through its Regional Training Center in Northern Mindanao has been addressing problems of insurgency in Lanao del Norte through directing hunger first; enabling rebel returnees to gain skills through trainings accompanied with livelihood assistance in order for peace to follow. The Institute has been persistently conducting such activities and have brought former MILF leaders with their members to visit developed farms. In so doing, it gives them idea on what they will do with their idle lands and be able to start developing their own areas.