Canadian International Development Minister visits MEDA project, supports strong partnership that creates sustainable jobs and reduces poverty in the Philippines

Above: Harjit S. Sajjan, Canadian Minister of International Development & Pacific Economic Development, visiting MEDA's RIISA project.

Mindanao, Philippines – The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Canadian Minister of International Development & Pacific Economic Development, recently visited MEDA’s Resilience and Inclusion through Investment for Sustainable Agrikultura (RIISA) project in Mindanao, Philippines. The project is a blended finance initiative aiming to promote sustainable markets, environmental sustainability, women’s leadership, and job creation in Mindanao. Importantly, it aligns with the Government of the Philippines’ Vision 2040 and Development Plan 2023-2028, which prioritize the development of the agricultural sector to reduce poverty and create sustainable and decent jobs.

Minister Sajjan expressed his appreciation for MEDA’s work and how the RIISA project fosters sustainable markets, environmental sustainability, women’s leadership, and job creation in Mindanao.

Despite producing 40% and 80% of the Philippines’ food and cacao supply, the Mindanao region experiences extreme poverty, limited productivity, and inadequate access to finance, investment, and technical skills. A decade-long civil conflict in the region has further hindered the development of this vital agricultural sector. However, with rising global demand for cocoa and 829,000 women farmers employed in this sector, a strong cocoa sector can reduce poverty, create decent jobs, and foster inclusive growth and resilience.

MEDA’s RIISA project, supported financially by Global Affairs Canada, is strengthening the cacao sector by harnessing investment and creating resilient and inclusive economic growth for 25,000 participants, including smallholder farmers, cooperatives, businesses, and investors from Mindanao. RIISA works directly with 5,400 farmers (40 percent women), and more than 30,000 cocoa household farms, employees of the cocoa value chain SMEs, and cooperative members. It uses capital for businesses, supports business service providers to improve their services, strengthens cocoa cooperative and farmer capacities, and supports the Mindanao cacao industry to be more inclusive and sustainable.

The RIISA project is a prime example of MEDA’s triple impact, operating at the nexus of economic development, environment, and gender equality. It also reflects MEDA’s long-term plan to create or sustain decent work for 500,000 people by 2030 and aligns with Global Affairs Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, its Feminist International Assistance Policy, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, MEDA’s President and CEO, highlights how MEDA’s partnership with Global Affairs Canada creates an impact in the Philippines through work in the Cocoa value chain in Mindanao. “We were pleased Minister Sajjan and the Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, David Hartman, had the opportunity to visit the RIISA project, which exemplifies work at a systems level that creates decent job opportunities both on and off the farm throughout the entire cocoa value chain in the Philippines.”

“MEDA is committed to business solutions investing in SMEs and entrepreneurs in Mindanao,” Dr. Nyambi said.

For more information about the Minister’s visit to the Philippines, read the Global Affairs Canada news release, Minister Sajjan announces $157.6 million in funding as he concludes visits to Bangladesh, the Philippines and Qatar. Read more about MEDA’s work in the Philippines on the RIISA project webpage.

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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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