The Promise Youth

21-year-old farmer Jomar Cabalo

A recent agricultural seminar Jomar Cabalo attended was an eye-opener for the 21-year-old farmer, as well as other young people his age.

Friends had urged him to participate in events organized under the third phase of the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP/3) to improve livelihood potential in the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Married at a young age, Cabalo had no choice but to work in the fields of Barangay Saniag in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, to earn a living for his family while pursuing education as a senior high school student.

The prospect of learning new ways of increasing production motivated Cabalo to join the MTF-RDP/3 productivity training sessions at Camp Omar.


“I am a farmer who lives in a farming community, so I might as well build on what I have,” he said. “Besides, I have long sought to attend these training programs and apply what I learn in what I do in the field.”

Cabalo talked to a team from the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) during an MTF- RDP/3 productivity training on vegetable gardening for the youth sector of Barangay Saniag.

The training was designed to increase agricultural production and income at a time of a general economic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young people of Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao getting their hands dirty during a vegetable gardening training
Jomar Cabalo and other young participants to the Agricultural Productivity training in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

“I have heard of the MTF-RDP for a long time since it has already given us several projects and opportunities,” Cabalo said. “But what I like now is that they have given the youth sector more focus. It has reinforced what I have been dreaming of – a group of young people who are cooperative, successful, and united for the future of this community,” he added.

An Agri-Trading and Production Facility was also constructed at Barangay Saniag. This will help farmers and villagers create and display their crops or hold community gatherings and other activities. As the project also seeks to foster participatory governance through the engagement with line ministries of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, resource persons from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) were invited to facilitate the series of productivity trainings.

The barangay also hosted training programs on corn production, cooking, crafting, coconut processing and gritting, and powdering.

“This is a great help for us although we already know the basics because we are farmers in the first place,” said Cabalo. “But techniques like composting without spending a single peso and fertilizer spraying will be very valuable for us,” he said.

Another batch of young people who joined these skills training was also provided with starter kits to allow them to apply and sustain the new skills learned.

“I also want my fellow youth to find their direction,” said Cabalo. “This training seems like a little thing but when we work hard, we no longer have to rely on others to live, especially for persons who have responsibilities like me,” he said.

Agri Trading and Productivity Facility in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao
Adapted from Community and Family Services International (09 March 2021). The Young Adopt to the Age of COVID at Camp Omar. URL: (accessed on 06 June 2021)