TOKYO/MANILA – The Japanese government has announced its commitment to contribute ¥737 million to a farm-to-school meals program aimed at supporting agricultural livelihoods, enhancing nutrition and food security, and improving education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa signed and exchanged notes for “The Project for the Promotion of ‘Farm-to-School’ Meals Programme Using Locally Harvested Products in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” with World Food Programme (WFP) Philippines Country Director at interim Giorgi Dolidze on Tuesday.
“In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in the southern part of the Philippines, which has long been affected by the Mindanao conflict, there is a strong tendency to view children as labor for farm work and household chores against a background of low family income, and the school enrolment rate of children is low. Another problem is the high rate of stunting associated with child undernutrition compared to other regions in the Philippines,” MOFA stated.
The ministry added that the program aims to introduce a school lunch system, a practice rarely observed in the region.
“This is expected to improve the school enrolment rate of children and increase and stabilize the income of local farmers by utilizing local agricultural products for school lunches, while improving the nutritional status of children,” it said.
Around 10,000 students are expected to benefit from this project every school day.
In an X post, Koshikawa stated that this initiative is a significant stride toward a future with zero hunger.
“Sealed a sustainable life for farmers and school children in BARMM. Together with WFP Philippines, this project will integrate farmers to schools by providing the students with local, diverse and nutritious school meals,” he said. - Florenda Corpuz
(Article cover photo courtesy of WFP/Rein Skullerud)