GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 August) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted around P80 million worth of agricultural projects to South Cotabato province under the World Bank-supported Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).
Engr. Reynold Binas, PRDP focal person, said that preparations are ongoing for the implementation of the program in the province that is targeted to begin during the last quarter of the year.
He said they are presently conducting orientations to local chief executives and prospective beneficiaries, specifically farmers’ organizations and cooperatives.
Binas said the six-year program’s implementation will mainly focus on its top five priority commodities comprising cassava, palm oil, coffee, rubber and corn.
“The funding and implementation of the projects will be based on proposals from the target beneficiaries,” he said in a statement.
The national government has allotted a total of P27.5 billion for the PRDP’s implementation, with around 75 percent coming from a loan with the World Bank.
Dr. Consolacion Satorre, component head of the PRDP’s program support unit, said around P25.4 billion or 92 percent of the program’s budget will directly benefit farmer-beneficiaries from all over the country during its implementation cycle, a briefer said.
She said the rest of the funds will cover for the cost of the program’s implementation and other pre-implementation initiatives.
About 67.4 percent of the funds or a total of P18.5 billion was set aside for the I-BUILD component or the Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development, which will mainly focus on the improvement of road networks connecting production areas and markets, she said.
The component will also fund projects that are aimed at increasing productivity from irrigation and water supply systems, she said.
Satorre said about 25.20 percent or P6.9 billion was allotted for the I-REAP component or the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity.
Such component focuses on increasing the number of viable local enterprises as well as enhancing productivity and increasing resiliency to climate change of producers, smallholder and fisher groups, she said.
Satorre said that under the I-REAP component, they have allotted P80 million worth of project for South Cotabato province as a pilot area for the program.
Out of the P80 million allotment for the province, the provincial government will have a counterpart of around P16 million or 20 percent of the total budget.
South Cotabato was earlier chosen by the Department of Agriculture (DA) as among the country’s pilot areas for the PRDP, which is the expanded version of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).
The province was chosen as lead area for the program due to the local government’s “excellent performance” in the implementation last year 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.
The other pilot areas in Mindanao are Maguindanao for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Zamboanga Sibugay for Zamboanga Peninsula; Misamis Occidental for Northern Mindanao; Davao del Norte for Davao region; and Agusan del Norte for Caraga region. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)