“Wala kaming nagawa kundi mag-bakwit (evacuate),” said farmer Jamalia Abdulmalic when asked about her experience during the war between the military and Maute terrorist group in Marawi City. “Lahat ng ari-arian namin, mga tanim at mga alagang hayop, nawala.”

Thus, the financial support from the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC), through its Survival and Recovery (SURE) Loan Assistance, was a welcome development for her and the members of the Al Sahara Producers Cooperative in Raya Guimba, Marawi City.

Along with 1,000 small farmers and fisherfolk from war-torn Marawi, Abdulmalic and 89 members of said cooperative each received ATM cards or E-Money cards containing P5,000 which they can use to rehabilitate their agri-fishery livelihood.

Abdulmalic, who also serves as Manager for the cooperative, hopes they can also use part of their fund as capital to revive their grocery store. “Punong-puno ng groceries ang coop bago nangyari ang kaguluhan, pero ‘nung nagka-seige, naubos lahat,” narrated Abdulmalic.

In July 2017, the Al Sahara Producers Cooperative was also identified as one of the lending conduits for the SURE loan assistance. During that time, P5,000 loan were given to each member of the cooperative which they used to buy fertilizers and seeds.

ACPC’s Team Marawi led by Director Ma. Cristina Lopez, who facilitated a series of orientations, briefings and financial literacy training for Marawi small farmers and fishers, commended the resiliency and diligence of the conflict-affected evacuees. “We first met the beneficiaries in the evacuation centers. They were in a very difficult situation back then. When we came back to Marawi for monitoring and evaluation, we were delighted to see them starting their agricultural activities again,” said Director Lopez.

Director Lopez added that for next year, the ACPC intends to expand its assistance to Marawi locals by providing them easy access loans for production and working capital.

“Maraming maraming salamat sa DA at sa ACPC, sa napakalaking tulong nila sa aming mga taga-Marawi,” said Abdulmalic.

Though she lost her home and livelihood due to the war, Abdulmalic remains optimistic about the future of Marawi. “Magsisikap at magta-trabaho kami para makabangon sa tulong ng gobyerno. Babangon uli ang Marawi,” she said.