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PHL seeking to tap $25M from World Bank’s Pandemic Fund

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will apply for about $25 million from the World Bank’s (WB) Pandemic Fund to strengthen the Philippines’ capacity to contain animal diseases.

“Our focus is surveillance, to improve the biosecurity (measures), the laboratories and our response to animal diseases,” DA Assistant Secretary Arnel V. de Mesa told reporters.

The Pandemic Fund is supported by donor countries, co-investors, foundations, and civil society organizations. It is jointly run by WB and the World Health Organization.

According to its website, the WB said that the fund is intended to finance “critical investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and global response capacities” and is focused on aiding low and middle-income countries.

The bank’s board approved $300 million in the first round of releases from the fund.

Mr. De Mesa said that the DA and the Department of Health (DoH) have submitted Expressions of Interest and will send a final proposal before the deadline on May 19.

“The government can propose separately or jointly. We still don’t know about the proposal of the DoH but we also want to have a joint submission to have a (stronger application),” he said.

According to Mr. De Mesa, the proposal hopes to course the funding through the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up, a WB-funded rural development program run by the DA.

The PRDP project aimed to “improve farmer and fisherfolk access to markets and increase income from selected agri-fishery value chains.”

According to a document uploaded to the WB website, the PRDP Scale-Up project cost is about $827 million.

Mr. De Mesa said the project was approved last month by the Investment Coordinating Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority at the cabinet committee level.

The original PRDP has been operating for eight years. Its focus was the modernization and proliferation of climate-smart agriculture and fisheries practices.

The Scale-Up component of the PRDP will focus on rebuilding “the whole value chain,” providing infrastructure support, and mainstreaming institutional reforms in DA programs and projects.

It is targeted for launch by July. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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