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PHL gov’t eyes WB loan for agriculture project ’scale-up’

Fish cages in Laguna De Bay, March 30, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE government is looking to obtain a $550-million loan from the World Bank (WB) to boost its rural development program.

A document uploaded on the World Bank website showed the Philippine government is seeking funding for the proposed Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-up.

“The PRDP Scale-up aims to improve farmers’ and fisherfolk’s access to markets and profitability in selected value chains,” the multilateral lender said.

However, the design of the proposed project would mean a “significant refocusing” of the approach adopted by the ongoing PRDP.

The current PRDP aims to increase rural incomes and enhance farm and fishery productivity in targeted areas. It has a total project cost of $1.1 billion, of which the World Bank has committed to finance $871.89 million.

“Whereas the ongoing PRDP focused on catalyzing the startup, expansion and business orientation of micro- to medium-scale agri-fishery enterprises, along with support for market access infrastructure, the proposed PRDP Scale-up project would involve a greater focus on more strategic approach through public infrastructure interventions to improve supply chain connectivity and efficiencies, while supporting for private sector led common service facility development and operations,” it said.

The new project would be implemented nationwide and cater to poor rural farmers, fisherfolk, and agricultural small and medium enterprises.

“Like its predecessor, the project will identify and assess risks and impacts on people and farmlands,” the World Bank said.

Under the proposal, a geographic information system (GIS) tool will be used to formulate strategies that would improve the climate resilience of production and investments.

The project would be expanded to include remote communities, it added.

Sub-projects under the program will prioritize sustainable, climate-smart agricultural strategies and technologies supported by cost effective public infrastructure. These include farm-to-market road and bridge networks, potable water supply and communal facilities such as food supply distribution hubs, logistics systems, and service facilities. 

The program will also offer community and livelihood sub-projects to include crop, fishery and animal production and the establishment and operation of common service facilities in production, post-harvest and marketing such as market stalls, cold chain and fish landings.

The World Bank said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be the lead agency for the proposed project’s implementation. The DA will coordinate with local government units at the provincial level, where the project will be implemented.

As of 2021, the World Bank was the country’s third-largest source of official development assistance (ODA), with loans and grants representing 24% of the total, based on data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The World Bank is currently supporting 25 ongoing programs and eight grants worth $7.66 billion as of 2021. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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