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Japan collaborates with Cuenca Batangas to help agri sector

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The Municipality of Cuenca in Batangas is hosting Japanese volunteers in efforts to upgrade agriculture technology and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in the communities.

Japanese volunteers – MIMURA Mari and KAWAMURA Akihiro – were both assigned to work with Cuenca local government under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) Program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Both MIMURA and KAWAMURA bring valuable expertise to their respective assignments in Cuenca, Batangas. Their knowledge and skills will greatly contribute to the sustainable development initiatives in the Cuenca community,” said JICA Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema.

The municipality is revitalizing their demo farms and would like to learn modern agricultural practices and experiences from Japan. These demo farms will be used to show the Cuenca community how to carry out new practices, research, and agricultural techniques of vegetable growing. This will also be a good opportunity for the local farmers to collaborate with a JICA volunteer toward sustainable farming that can contribute to environmental conservation, food security and quality of life of people in the municipality.

Their Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) is also in need of technical expertise in strengthening capacities of communities on disaster response. In 2020, the Taal Volcano eruption forced evacuations in Cuenca’s lakeshore barangays. Through the volunteer’s endeavor, technical support and training to enhance the capabilities of the Cuenca DRRMO in handling such emergencies effectively will be provided, among others.

“Also, I strongly expect that JICA volunteers will promote friendship between our two nations through mutual understanding and mutual respect. They will be grassroot ambassadors on the ground,” added SAKAMOTO.

The JICA volunteers have been around in the Philippines since 1966 – fulfilling their roles as grassroots ambassadors who share their expertise to remote, marginalized communities. So far, about 1,700 JOCVs were dispatched to the Philippines supporting diverse areas in sustainable development.

MIMURA is an agriculture technology graduate of Tokyo University of Agriculture. She worked in the field of environment conservation and bio-breeding at the Kumamoto Prefectural Agricultural Research Center, Japan. Meanwhile, KAWAMURA is a firefighter in Japan who also trained schools and communities in evacuation and other disaster response.

Executive Director James Gawe of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) said, “We laud the efforts of the Municipality of Cuenca to fulfill the role of government in providing a conducive environment for volunteers. I hope that they make the best use of knowledge and skills from the JICA volunteers.”

Cuenca Mayor Alexander Magpantay assured that the LGU will provide support and guidance to the JICA volunteers throughout their projects.

JICA volunteers live with communities in the Philippines, learn local language and culture, and create impactful projects that address local needs. In 2016, they were recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s Nobel equivalent, for promoting mutual understanding and solidarity with counterpart communities.

MIMURA (left) and KAWAMURA (right) states the volunteer’s pledge of commitment during the JICA-JOCV Batch 177 Co-Management Meeting and turn over ceremony held at the PNVSCA Office, last July 24, 2023.

JOCVs (middle) with representatives from Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), Cuenca local government unit, and JICA volunteer section.

JOCVs with Cuenca Mayor Alexander Magpantay (center) and counterparts from the Municipal Agriculturist Office and Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

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