GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 August) — The national government is investing around P36 million for the development of a production plant for cassava granules in South Cotabato province under the World Bank-supported Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).
Arnel De Mesa, PRDP deputy program director, said the project is a part of the enterprise development component of the program, which had identified the province as among its pilot areas.
He said they approved the project’s funding based on a business plan presented by the provincial government and its partner proponent groups in a recent finalization workshop held in Davao City.
“The proponents identified commercial scale feed mills as target market,” De Mesa said in a statement.
He said the proposed cassava granules production project will benefit cassava farmers of seven cooperatives that operate in 10 municipalities in the province.
The official said they earlier identified cassava as a priority commodity for Region 12 that will be supported under PRDP’s enterprise development component.
He said cassava was among the top commodities in the region that were previously supported by the program’s predecessor the Mindanao Rural Development Program.
He said the program had assisted a cooperative in Banga town in South Cotabato that is engaged in cassava processing.
The cooperative, which is currently supplying dried cassava chips to a major feed processor, was among the “big-ticket” projects supported by the MRDP in the area.
“Our focus now is to assist farmer organizations’ capacities to expand production of raw materials into high-value processing,” De Mesa said.
According to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12, cassava farmers in South Cotabato recorded the highest yield per hectare in the region in the last three years.
Also known as Soccsksargen, the region covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The province’s annual cassava harvest is currently pegged at around 34.5 million metric tons.
A report from the South Cotabato Office of the Provincial Agriculturist said that among the province’s 10 towns and lone city, six already host chipping facilities and solar dryers for cassava.
South Cotabato was earlier chosen by the DA as among the country’s pilot areas for the PRDP, which is the expanded version of the MRDP.
The province was chosen as lead area for the program due to the local government’s “excellent performance” in the implementation in 2012 of various projects under the MRDP–Adaptable Program Loan Phase 2 (MRDP-2).
South Cotabato province emerged as the top performer among the 26 provinces in Mindanao that were covered by MRDP-2 last year as it posted an accomplishment rating of 129 percent in terms of project implementation and fund disbursement.
Among Mindanao’s six regions, Region 12 or the Socssksargen Region posted the highest combined accomplishment rating for MRDP-2 in 2012. (MindaNews)