By Anthony S. Pagapulaan and Melede S. Ganoy

PHOTO: CNN Philippines 

Butuan City, the capital of Caraga Region, is pronounced as one of the 15 world cities to win the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayor's Challenge for 2021 - 2022, the only city in the Philippines and Southeast Asia to make it into the list.

In the contest, the city presented an agriculturally inclined campaign named "AgriBoost" which seeks to ensure its constituents of healthy and cheap food while its farmers benefit from well-priced products.

“AgriBoost will enable a more secure livelihood for the disadvantaged farmers and other value chain players by improving the system of backward and forward linkages of resource and market accessibility of our agri-sector,” said Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada. 

Under the AgriBoost, the city's more than 21,000 household beneficiaries are expected to have better access to affordable vegetable supplies that will aid the city's food security.

“This looks forward to a stronger food security and self-sufficiency for the people of Butuan. AgriBoost will also jumpstart smart agriculture in the city. Onwards to building a ‘lagsik nga dakbayan’ (vibrant city) that is built on sustainable food systems," he said.

It also promises city vendors of good sourcing and income, if realized. Farmers are also expected to gain better as a new set of skills and financial management will be taught to them, paving the way to higher production and increased income.

Butuan city, as a reward, will receive $1 million, along with three-year coaching and technical support.

“Butuan is deeply honored, inspired and excited about this great recognition by Bloomberg Philanthropies of AgriBoost as a breakthrough innovative response to the challenges of the pandemic. We are excited about moving the project forward with the inspiring and able support of Bloomberg Philanthropies,” Lagnada added.

The city also aims to share its ideas with more cities around the globe in the hopes of mass implementation of such projects highlighting agriculture and equitable food supply.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is a competition that showcases innovative ideas of cities across the globe. This year's winners were picked according to their promising urban innovations.

The 15 winners' campaigns revolve around four key areas including economic recovery and inclusive growth; health and wellbeing; climate and environment; and gender and equality — especially in the midst of the pandemic.

“Our fifteen winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents' lives—and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and former Mayor of New York City.