News Column

PHILIPPINES: New Rural Development Project to Benefit

August 29, 2014



WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 -- World Bank issued the following news release:

The World Bank'sBoard of Executive Directors approved today a loan and grant financing package for rural infrastructure as well as small business and livelihood projects for farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines. The assistance aims to raise rural incomes and reduce poverty in the country.

Called the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the new US$508.25 million financial package aims to improve the productivity of small farmers and fisherfolk as well as their access to markets. This project will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Over 70 percent of total financing will be utilized for funding infrastructure projects of local government units. This will include farm-to-market roads, bridges, tire tracks, communal irrigation, potable water systems, post-harvest facilities, production facilities, fish landings, fish sanctuaries, storage facilities, trading posts, green houses, solar driers, and slope stabilization works.

The geotagging tool, developed by the DA and currently being used to monitor agri-fishery infrastructure projects, will provide online updates on the progress of PRDP-funded projects.

The project will directly benefit close to two (2) million farmers and fisherfolk, almost half of whom are women. PRDP will also indirectly benefit an estimated 22 million people, which includes 10 million women.

Investments in rural infrastructure will benefit producers, traders, and the rural population through better transport infrastructure, reduced travel time, and improved access to markets. The project will encourage farmers and fisherfolk to increase and diversify production and to engage in value-adding activities, thus yielding increased incomes. Small business and livelihood activities will also benefit small-scale and poor producers through the provision of technical assistance, training, market linkages, and financial assistance.

Under the PRDP, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala sees deeper collaboration between the DA and local government units (LGUs), where the DA provides technical and financial support to local planning, implementation and delivery of services and infrastructure. This is an important step, he said, in integrating local priorities in the national development programs, making both effective partners in the development of the farming and fishing sector.

"We will work with local government units, the private sector and various stakeholders in coming up with provincial commodity investment plans and, in the process, providing key infrastructure, facilities, technology and information that will help improve production and raise incomes in the rural areas. World Bank Group support will help the Department of Agriculture, and the country, achieve these goals," said Secretary Alcala.

The PRDP expects to achieve the following within six years:

- At least five (5) percent increase per year in real household annual incomes of beneficiaries, mostly farmers and fisherfolk; - 30 percent increase in income for targeted beneficiaries of small business and livelihood projects;

- Seven (7) percent increase in value of products sold to the market; and

- 20 percent increase in number of farmers and fisherfolk with improved access to services provided by the DA.

The package includes a US$7 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for strengthening conservation and protection of selected coastal and marine protected areas. Priority areas for conservation include Tayabas Bay in Quezon; Green Island Bay in Palawan; Ticao Pass in Sorsogon and Masbate; Guimaras; Danajon Bank in Bohol; and Guiuan Coast in Eastern Samar.

The GEF is a collaboration of 183 countries working together with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues.

"The Bank's support for PRDP reaffirms its commitment to the agriculture sector with the end view of creating jobs and generating opportunities to improve lives for farmers and fisherfolk. This project is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) of establishing a competitive and sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector, and echoes the new Country Partnership Strategy geared toward more inclusive growth," said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima.

Despite rapid urbanization, 51 percent of Filipinos reside in rural areas and support half the labor force. Many of them - particularly farmers and fisherfolk - are poor, constrained by poor infrastructure for transport, particularly roads, port facilities, among others and lack of post-harvest facilities.

"Given that a significant number of poor people are in the rural areas, successful implementation of this project could boost the country's efforts to achieve growth that creates jobs, in line with the World Bank Group's twin goals of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity," said World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi.

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