JOLO, Philippines - More than 100 faculty members and students from Mindanao State University, Sulu, Philippines, participated on June 1 in a historic Veterinary/Agricultural Seminar at the Sulu Area Coordination Center.
Hosted by Sulu’s provincial government, the seminar, which was the first of its kind in conflict-affected Sulu province, featured Philip Shull, a foreign service agricultural counselor from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and veterinarians from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.
Shull said he hopes the seminar will help Sulu barangays develop a closer relationship with the Philippine government and draw attention to the value of the resources at the U.S. Embassy for agricultural advice and support programs.
“We hope they see the U.S. as a positive partner with the Philippine government and a positive force in the lives and communities of the Filipino people,” Shull said. “And we are hopeful that in the future we will be able to do regular outreach seminars like this and bring in experts who can convey information that is critical and will have a quick and direct impact on their lives, their livelihood, and their families.”
Also in attendance were Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan and members of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Sulu Area Coordination Center.
The U.S. Army veterinarian assigned to JSOTF-P said the goal of the seminar was to engage the local government in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the AFP and eventually help facilitate this kind of civic assistance with increasingly greater local government participation and sponsorship.
“The presence of the USDA team was critical because it helped marry provincial-level assets with their national-level counterparts,” said another JSOTF-P team member. “These relationships will help Sulu coordinate future seminars and subject matter information exchanges, enhancing the knowledge and capacity of the local farmers of Sulu.”
In addition to giving practical advice on farming techniques, the speakers used samples, pamphlets and handouts to increase awareness of common livestock diseases and toxic plants in southern Mindanao and introduce new uses for familiar agricultural products, including home remedies for common illnesses.
“We appreciate and welcome so many groups coming together sharing their thoughts, resources, and enthusiasm for agriculture,” said Fazlur Abdullah, Sulu ACC director. “The mission of the governor is to enhance, develop and improve our natural resources. Opening up to the outside world, floating ideas, doing community outreach will help us help ourselves and instill confidence in our people. Our goal is food sufficiency. We should be producing our own food. ”
Abdullah said he hopes these seminars will be conducted in the future “soon and often.”
This work, AFP, JSOTF-P and USDA participate in Sulu agricultural seminar, by LTJG Cassandra Thompson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.