WB funds $99.3M agri projects

By Mico Agustin

TO improve farmers’ competitiveness and make their products more accessible to their intended markets, the World Bank has shelled out around $99.3M to partly finance projects that would support the said initiatives.

In a statement, WB confirmed that they already approved the said amount to fill in the $231M Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness (IPAC) project by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The program is expected to benefit some 300,000 farmers and farm workers in 44 provinces across the country, which will support the efforts of farmer organizations to improve productivity and the quality of products, as well as find more markets in order to raise farmers’ incomes.

“The project, to be rolled out among agrarian reform community clusters across 44 provinces, will also help strengthen the capacity of farmer organizations to engage in commercial agriculture, provide extension services, develop enterprises, secure individual land titles for their members, and improve rural infrastructure,” the World Bank said.

The provinces that will benefit from the funding include Abra, Aklan, Albay, Bataan, Basilan, Batangas, Benguet, Bohol, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Capiz and Cebu.

Also on the list are Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Eastern Samar, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Iloilo, Isabela, La Union, Lanao del Sur, Leyte, Maguindanao, Marinduque, Masbate, Misamis Occidental, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Sorsogon, Tarlac, Western Samar and Zambales.

“Through the project, farmers and other beneficiaries will be able to directly identify and implement activities that will empower them to improve their lives. As a long-term partner of the Philippines, the World Bank supports the country’s efforts to develop a competitive farming sector that may bring down poverty and vulnerability in rural areas,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for the Philippines.

Meanwhile, DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano said that DAR’s program initially gives lands to landless farmers, but wants to be ‘more than’ just that.

“Through the farmer-driven matching grants, IPAC will strengthen our efforts to help small-holder farmers and their organizations engage in sustainable agri-enterprise projects. This will raise their incomes and help them become self-reliant,” Mariano said.

The Washington-based multilateral lender  also said that the matching grants that will be channeled via farmers’ groups will fund construction of production facilities (such as green houses and nurseries), processing and marketing facilities, product development, production of high-value agricultural products, and promotion of food safety.

World Bank documents showed that the loan will mature in 25 years, with a grace period of 10 years.

IPAC was among the nine projects approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by the President, during its first meeting under the Duterte administration last September.

According to NEDA, IPAC will focus on developing agribusiness synergies in financially-viable production of copra, organic and low-chem rice, cacao, cassava, coffee, oil palm, Muscovado sugar, abaca, and rubber.

The Philippine government and the beneficiaries would also contribute $131 million and $28 million, respectively, in the project.

The DAR-led project will also be financed by the government with $131 million, as well as other beneficiaries with $28 million.

 

 

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