DA to fast track MRDP phase 3

AGRICULTURE Secretary  Proceso J. Alcala  encouraged local chief executives in Mindanao to fast-track the implementation of the Mindanao Rural Development Program 2 (MRDP2) and pave way to its Phase-3 to reduce poverty.

Alcala said  the MRDP is the DA’s flagship poverty alleviation initiative in Mindanao with  a total fund of US$123.96 million from the loan portfolio of the World Bank, and equity share of the national government and the local government units (LGUs).

The program is under the Adaptable Program Loan (APL) portfolio of the World Bank where the satisfactory performance of the present APL triggers for the preparation and approval of the next APL or a new loan Portfolio.

“We need to perform well. Improve our physical accomplishments and fund utilization for us to continue creating more agricultural opportunities in Mindanao,” said Alcala in a meeting with over 100 local chief executives in Cagayan de Oro last week.

Sec. Alcala has vouched on the vast agricultural potential of Mindanao in achieving food sufficiency as its soils are fertile and rich, people are resilient and the region is seldom visited by typhoon.

To set the fast-tracking activities in motion, Sec. Alcala has set March 31, 2011 as deadline for all LGUs to submit all proposals to the program in order to focus on implementation and reach target disbursement of 60 percent of the loan portfolio.

“I wish that by mid-term evaluation of the program, our disbursement will reach 60 percent,” Alcala said.

On the agreement between World Bank and the Philippine government, phase 3 will be initiated upon reaching at least 60 percent disbursement of the present APL (MRDP2).

Among other triggers for the third phase MRDP will be the satisfactory performance of MRDP2 on its mid-term evaluation on key results indicators: the improvement of incomes on rural households and degree of Initiative of LGUs in instituting concrete mechanisms for sustainability.

It is also expected that before the phase three provincial government units are fully engaged in the program having prepared a provincial development plan aligned with its annual budgetary allocations.

“We are now approaching the mid-term of the program and so far, DA and the World Bank has seen positive results of our efforts. Fishermen and farmers alike have increased their incomes, improved their agricultural practices, and has rekindle hope among the poor communities in Mindanao,” Program director Lealyn A. Ramos said.

Ramos added that the major bottleneck of the program has always been the providing the equity share for its projects.

“Our Rural Infrastructure (RI) component, which gets the biggest slice of the total fund, applies 50:50 cost-sharing scheme where the Program shoulders half of the total project cost and the other half by the proponent LGU. In our experience many 4th class to 6th class municipalities are hard up to put up their equity,” Ramos explained.

To encourage better performance from the LGUs under his watch, Sec. Alcala committed to shoulder at least 40 percent of the equity share of the LGUs.

“With the new scheme where LGUs only have to defray 10 percent equity, we are expecting to complete more farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation systems, potable water supply and post harvest facilities,” Alcala said.

Further he enjoined provincial governments to help financially-strapped towns in their provinces so they could qualify and avail of MRDp projects.

The first phase of MRDP which closed December in 2004 covered 5 provinces and 32 municipalities. Phase 2, the present phase, kick-started in May 2007 covering all 26 provinces and 225 of the 420 municipalities across the six regions of Mindanao and is expected to end December 2013.

The third phase eyes to cover all towns in Mindanao and will focus on deepening the program implementation by ensuring that all eligible municipalities are fully engaged.

“I urged the other mayors (not covered in the phase 2) to prepare for the necessary requirements for you to be included in the MRDP phase 3,” Sec. Alcala said.

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