Building bridges: MEDA concludes a successful meeting with Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau in Manila, Philippines

Above: (From right to left) MEDA Country Director, Philippines, Catherine Sobrevega, Minister for Agriculture and Agri-food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, CESO Country representative, Matt Navalta, Global Affairs Canada Head of Cooperation, John Lok, and Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines, Mr. Peter MacArthur.

Waterloo, ON– On September 26th, Catherine Sobrevega, MEDA’s Country Director, Philippines, met with the Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Mr. Peter MacArthur, Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines, and other international development stakeholders in Manila, Philippines.

During a productive conversation, Catherine presented MEDA’s Resilience and Inclusion through Investment for Sustainable Agrikultura (RIISA) project to the Minister and the Ambassador. Catherine discussed how RIISA would create decent and inclusive jobs for those experiencing poverty and how the project aligns with the Government of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP).

While the Mindanao region of the Philippines produces 80% of the country’s cacao, it has the highest poverty rate in the country. Limited investment and skills within the sector have led to low productivity, particularly among farms, small medium enterprises (SMEs), and co-operatives led by women. In addition, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened poverty in Mindanao.

The RIISA project is working to create long-term change in the cacao sector of the Philippines. It invests in the cacao sector and supports farmers and entrepreneurs with technical assistance. RIISA places an emphasis on supporting clients to adopt environmentally sustainable practices to adapt to climate change. RIISA further provides access to finance to women entrepreneurs and strengthens the enabling environment to improve the cacao market system resilience in the Philippines. Through these project activities, it will create decent work for 25,000 women and men small-scale farmers over the project’s life and positively impact thousands of households, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and public institutions.

Above: A productive meeting in Manila with MEDA, GAC, and other partners.

Catherine Sobrevega strongly endorses further dialog and coordination among NGOs and government actors to alleviate poverty in the Philippines.

“Working with like-minded government partners is essential to providing high-quality employment opportunities. Systemic change can be achieved when we form productive partnerships and harness our strengths to support farmers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector of the Philippines.”

– Catherine Sobrevega

RIISA is one of MEDA’s latest projects designed to harness the power of the entrepreneurs and farmers in the agricultural systems of the Global South. It is a core part of MEDA’s plan to create or sustain 500,000 decent jobs for farmers and entrepreneurs in the Global South by 2030.

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  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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