WB tackles DA’s flagship rural development programs

THE World Bank (WB) is currently conducting a joint review and preparation activities for two flagship rural development projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“The WB team is doing a joint week-long review mission for DA’s second phase Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) and the appraisal activities for the proposed Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP),” said WB lead rural development specialist Carolina F. Geron in a kick-off meeting held Monday at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Conference hall here.

Geron said that WB is supporting the agricultural and fisheries competitiveness for broad-based inclusive growth referring to the achievements of MRDP as it will be duplicated in the entire country through the PRDP.

Agriculture secretary Proceso J. Alcala said that the MRDP and PRDP are two important programs that aim to help attain and sustain sufficient and affordable food for the people.

“These are the programs that are designed to increase farmers’ and fishers’ incomes through investments in climate-smart physical and ecological infrastructure and in broad-based value-adding enterprises,” Alcala said, adding: “with these programs we aim not only to improve agriculture but also improve the way we do agriculture.”

“MRDP has modeled and found the ‘secret formula’ how a national government agency can effectively, in a cost–efficient manner, work with the local government units (LGUs),” Geron said.

This, she added, disproved the perception that LGUs particularly in Mindanao are weak and less capable in delivering agri-fishery services since the MRDP experience has shown otherwise.

“If this has worked in Mindanao, why can’t it not do the same for Luzon and Visayas,” she said.

As of February this year, MRDP has disbursed 56% of the US$83.752 million dollars equivalent to US$46.901 million. According to the WB analysis, MRDP is best-case scenario for the program, to complete the project within the two-year extension period.

Ian Shuker, WB Sector Manager for East Asia and the Pacific for the social, environment and rural development, the project is a government’s positive change in terms of effective rural development.

“The World Bank is contributing only a little resources here, it is the government that has spent so much. And the direction you are heading, the forward thinking and the enthusiasm is so encouraging,” he said, recalling that they have started the MRDP concept about 15years ago.

Meanwhile, Geron said PRDP will be the nationwide replication of MRDP with some distinct improvement as it be a way to carry forward DA’s refocusing on the value chain, enterprise/cluster development and vertical integration from production to processing to marketing.

“This will also provide a platform for a real operational convergence for government agencies like DOST, DTI, DAR, DENR, and DPWH as well as showcase reforms in the delivery of support services based on a demand-driven approach,” Geron said.

PRDP will also showcase a strong link between the national strategic objectives of the Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Plan (AFMP) with the region AFMP and the local stakeholders’ interest including LGUs, private sector, civil society and the academe.

Geron said that the PRDP appraisal mission will focus on key technical, institutional and economic, financial environmental and social aspects of the project. The WB will also look into the readiness of the DA to implement the project.

Within the week, the WB team is expected to review the performance of the LGUs involved in Mindanao implementation and the workshops to polish PRDP operations Manual in Davao City.

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