DA seeks $500-M WB loan to fund rural devt program

THE agriculture department is seeking a $500-Million loan from the World Bank (WB) to finance the agency’s medium-term nationwide rural development program called the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the PRDP will initially cover six regions (4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7 and 8) in Luzon and Visayas, and all provinces covered under the current Mindanao Rural Development Program Phase 2 (MRDP2).

In addition to the $500-M loan from the World Bank (WB), the government will have a counterpart fund of $120-M and beneficiary local government units (LGUs), and a $7-M grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to finance said program.

Alcala said the PRDP will be patterned after the five-year MRDP2, which was also funded by a $83.75-M WB loan, and about $40-M worth of counterpart from the Philippine government particularly the DA and beneficiary-LGUs. MRDP is implemented by the DA in partnership with the ‘enrolled’ LGUs and project beneficiaries.

For his part WB team leader Felizardo Virtucio said the MRDP2 has successfully partnered with the LGUs in Mindanao in establishing needed rural infrastructure and other community livelihood projects, which has encouraged the DA under Secretary Alcala to propose a similar program to cover other poor farming and fishing communities in Luzon and Visayas.

“We will apply in PRDP everything that was good about the MRDP, and will fill in the inadequacies of the MRDP,” said Secretary Alcala.

Among other accomplishments, the MRDP was able to increase the average incomes of project beneficiaries to 16.7 percent (%), which is about 10 percentage points more than the targeted increase of only 7%, the DA chief added.

The proposed PRDP aims to increase the agricultural and fishery productivity and incomes of small farmers and fisherfolk through the establishment of needed infrastructure that include farm-to-market roads (FMRs), bridges, communal irrigation systems (CIS), and potable water systems, among other rural infrastructure.

Secretary Alcala said when the PRDP program documents are finalized these will be submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Aquino, for approval. Thereafter, the Philippine government will submit it to the WB for a program loan.

Secretary Alcala said they wish to start implementing the project by August next year. The program will run for six years.

The projects include production of crops, poultry and livestock, high value crops, organic farm products, marine fish and aquaculture, food processing and marketing, and small support infrastructure like hanging bridges, footpaths, water pumps, pump boats, and fish landing, among others.

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