NEKITAN, SULTAN KUDARAT — Bapa Rehan, a father of four and a farmer of the ‘Kayod ka, Bangsamoro’ (KKB) program, shared to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE) last Wednesday, May 20, that the supply of food on their dining table has grown, and they have a new livelihood activity to support their income, thanks to the KKB Convergence of the BARMM government.

“Dati, meron din naman kaming mga gulay na naluluto at iba pang pagkain. Pero ngayon, mas dumami at hindi na kami masyadong nag-aalala na mauubusan ng pagkain dahil may mga naaani na kami,” Rehan said.

Having established a KKB ‘survival garden’ in the forestland of Brgy. Nekitan, Sultan Kudarat, he said that they’ve already planted a variety of vegetables and cash crops since the implementation of the KKB Convergence during the second half of 2020. Among the veggies and crops planted and harvested were cucumber, eggplant, squash, ampalaya, petchay and okra.
“Marami kaming napagpipilian. Nabebenta pa namin yung karamihan sa mga gulay. Dagdag kita na rin. Nagbunga talaga yung itinanim at pinaghirapan namin,” he added.
The KKB farmers, who are soon-to-be-decommissioned MILF-BIAF combatants and their families, bring and sell their vegetables and crops to their contact buyers upon harvest.
In Brgy. Tamar, Talayan, Brgy. Dasawao, Sultan sa Mastura, Brgy. Labungan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, their total yield production report for the first cycle, as of February 2021, reached 40,865 in Philippine Peso.
These KKB farmers reap what they sow. The seeds of vegetables and short-term cash crops that they plant turn into a diverse choice of food that they harvest to sell or to put on their kitchen table for their family to enjoy.

KKB gardens in Nekitan visited

MENRE Executives, Deputy Minister Akmad A. Brahim and Assistant Regional Secretary Alindatu K. Pagayao, paid a visit to the survival gardens in Brgy. Nekitan and shared a discussion with the KKB farmers over an afternoon ‘merienda’, of which some are from the bought harvested products.

Joining the two were the Director of Forest Management Services, Abdul-Jalil S. Umngan, Chief of Planning Jessie S. Ondoy, Chief Forest Management Specialist Faisal U. Akmad, and Chief Administrative Officer Mohamad Ali R. Dimaren.
“Hinihikayat ko ang mga partners ng KKB Convergence na ito na magsikap. Isa itong oportunidad na mapakita natin na kaya nating magtransition mula ‘arms to farms’,” Deputy Minister Brahim told the farmers.

World Food Programme Country Director Brenda Barton and Peace Advisor from United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office Melina Nathan engaged with the farmers as well and gained some insights on what the bigger picture looks like in the actual communities.

When asked about what they feel about the KKB program, the fighters-turned-farmers exclaimed “Happy! Happy!” in chorus as they all raised their ‘thumbs up’, signifying their joy and hope that the program will continue.

“Masaya talaga kami. May ginagawa kaming nakakabuti para sa pamilya namin at para na rin sa ikauunlad ng Bangsamoro,” a group of farmers said.

The KKB Convergence, chaired by BARMM Senior Minister and MENRE Minister Abdulraof A. Macacua, is a joint program of MENRE, MAFAR, MILG, BPDA and WFP to address food insecurity in BARMM and since then provide income-generating livelihood activities and capacity building for the partners of KKB, which is a sub-component of the MENRE’s banner project, the Integrated Bangsamoro Greening Program (IBGP).