The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects the World Bank (WB) to approve an additional $280-million (P14 billion) second additional financing (AF2) to bankroll more agriculture enterprise and rural infrastructure subprojects under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).
The $280-M loan includes a EUR18.3 million (P1 billion) co-financing grant from the European Union (EU).
“The WB is expected to approve the AF2-EU loan on June 17, 2021, while formal loan signing is set in July,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
“We look forward to more enabled communities and expanded opportunities under the new normal with the approval of the AF2-EU,” Dar added.
The AF2 is the second tranche of the $450-million funding from the World Bank as approved by the Philippine government’s Investment Coordination Committee in 2016.
It aims to scale up activities and enhance the benefits and impacts of the PRDP, thus supporting the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 economic recovery.
The additional PRDP funding will meet the increasing demand for rural infrastructure by local government units (LGUs), and for enterprise development investments and technical assistance by proponent farmers’, fishers’ and agribusiness groups.
The key to the funding approval of AF2 is the outstanding assessment of completed PRDP subprojects, prior to the ongoing 12th World Bank Implementation Support Mission, from May 24 to June 10, 2021, with 400 participants all over the country, including top WB officials.
In 2014, the Philippine government proposed the PRDP, which the WB approved and provided a loan and grant package amounting to $501 million.
Since then, with better, well-paved roads, travel time was reduced by 31 percent (%), and transport and hauling costs by 25%.
Due to the combined outcomes of infrastructure and agricultural enterprise sub-projects, target beneficiaries were able to increase their average income by at least 36% as reported in the project’s midterm evaluation study.
The PRDP-served communities also reported an increase in school attendance and higher levels of enrollment, faster response to medical emergencies, as well as improved peace and order situation.
DA undersecretary for operations and PRDP national project director Ariel Cayanan congratulated the PRDP men and women and LGU partners, farmers, and fisherfolk for a job well done despite all the shortcomings and challenges.
“Let us continue to remain united and move forward to attain a modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented, and a climate-smart agriculture sector,” Cayanan said.
“The program has rolled out 1,091 projects in 78 provinces.”
For his part, DA-PRDP national deputy project director Shandy Hubilla said as of April 30, 2021, the program has rolled out 1,091 projects in 78 provinces, benefiting 766,200 households, and conducted 132 value chain analysis, covering 76 agri-fishery and food commodities.
In the area of infrastructure, the DA-PRDP has constructed more than 1,200 kilometers of roads, more than 1,000 lineal meters of bridges, 98 pre-and-post-harvest facilities, provided potable water systems for 6,582 households, improved irrigation or drainage services for 1,997 hectares of farmland, and completed more than 400 enterprise sub-projects, benefitting 81,000 households, belonging to 567 proponent groups.
World Bank task team leader Eli Weiss expressed his gratitude to the DA-PRDP for its collaborative efforts to extend tremendous support to farmers.
“It has been a roller-coaster ride, but thanks for your persistence. It really pays off,” Weiss said.
“A recent report from the World Bank highlighted the satisfactory implementation of the PRDP, and rated its monitoring and evaluation system as high, a rating rarely awarded by the Bank,” he added.
For her part, Dina Umali-Deininger, WB East Asia and Pacific region agriculture practice manager, commended the DA-PRDP for being able to accomplish and keep the projects going despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.
“The PRDP has raised the bar on project implementation, not only in the Philippines but also in other projects in Asia.”
“The PRDP has raised the bar on project implementation, not only in the Philippines but also in other projects in Asia,” Deininger said.
The agriculture chief recognized the continuing, challenging work ahead amid the pandemic.
“Truly, the PRDP has done remarkably well in its efforts to move forward in implementing subprojects and in helping our communities. I commend everyone for your unwavering efforts in attaining the goals of the project and having the humanitarian attitude of helping those who are in need,” the agriculture head said during the virtual opening of 12th WBISM.
“We must continue to improve our services and processes as the world is ever-changing, and as we gradually move towards a new way of living,” he stressed.
“It is also our responsibility to keep up with the times and offer innovative solutions on how to provide for a modern, climate-smart, and market-oriented agri-fishery sector,” Dar concluded.