LGUs urged to invest in farm infra
(The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is urging local government units in Western Visayas – one of the regions battered by Super Typhoon Yolanda late in 2013 – to focus their investments on critical farm infrastructure projects through the World Bank-supported Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).  

In a statement, Alcala said investments in farm-to-market roads and small irrigation systems can help create more sustainable sources of livelihood in the agriculture sector in the region.

He said improvements in irrigation systems in Western Visayas can strengthen rice production in the region.

Only about 65,000 hectares out of the 330,000 hectares of rice cultivation areas in Western Visayas are served by national irrigation systems.

The majority of the rice production areas are either served by small water impounding projects and communal systems or are considered rainfed.

Alcala said he would propose to the World Bank the inclusion of small water impounding projects in the PRDP menu.

“We will show the World Bank that we do not only need farm-to-market roads. We also need small water impounding projects,” he said.

Alcala urged Western Visayas LGUs to use their local development funds from their respective internal revenue allotment to fund their proposed development projects.

Western Visayas comprises the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo.

The PRDP, rolled out beginning the second semester of 2014, is a six-year program implemented by the DA with the World Bank for the creation of an inclusive, value-oriented and climate-resilient agriculture and fisheries sector.

The total project cost for the PRDP is P27.5 billion consisting of a P20.5 billion loan from the World Bank, P3.58 billion counterpart funding from the National Government, P3.112 billion equity of LGUs, and P287 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The PRDP builds on the innovations introduced by the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) that was concluded in 2013. It will cover 80 provinces in 16 regions.

Local government units that choose to participate in the project are required to provide counterpart funds of 10 percent of the project cost for production support for commodities and 20 percent of the project cost for infrastructure projects.

LGUs must also complete commodity investment plans for project counterpart funding and complete a value chain analysis for commodities that would be placed under the program.

The PRDP provides for a value chain analysis for 25 priority agricultural commodities in the country including coffee, rubber, mango and seaweed.

A value chain analysis is used to identify public and private investment opportunities through the identification of the status of a particular industry, the linkages among players and the interventions that can be implemented to develop the industry.

The DA has temporarily waived the value chain analysis requirement for provinces still reeling from the onslaught of Yolanda to expedite the release of production assistance funds under PRDP to support the production of its main agricultural commodities.

PRDP deputy program director Arnel de Mesa earlier said that waiving the requirement, albeit temporarily, would enable these LGUs to immediately avail of the counterpart funding scheme.

It takes about six months to complete a value chain analysis for commodities.

In line with the waiver, around P80 million worth of enterprise projects – mostly processing – have been pipelined for implementation in central Philippines. Around P2.1 billion worth of infrastructure projects have also been programmed for implementation.

De Mesa said LGUs covered by the waiver on the conduct of a value chain analysis would still have to present a commodities investment plan to avail of counterpart funding.

Upon release of assistance, the DA would tailor fit the business proposal to the actual needs of the community.

De Mesa said of Leyte, Southern Leyte and Eastern Samar LGUs have already submitted proposals for counterpart funding of farm projects under the PRDP.

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