DA eyes P7.5-B for flagship program

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting to implement around P7.5 billion worth of infrastructure and enterprise development projects this year under its flagship rural development initiative Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).

Arnel de Mesa, PRDP deputy program director, said such funding comprises about 27 percent of the P27.5-billion loan grant approved by the World Bank for the program, which will be implemented in parts of the country in the next six years.

“(But) that’s just our target as the funding utilization will mainly depend on the progress of the processing and implementation of the identified sub-projects on the ground,” he said at the sidelines of the World Bank’s review mission for the PRDP here on Monday.

De Mesa was specifically referring to the proposed sub-projects under the PRDP’s I-BUILD component or the Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development and the I-REAP or the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity.

The infrastructure component mainly focuses on the improvement of farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, water supply systems and other projects that will help increase the productivity of local farmers.

For enterprise development, PRDP will help increase the number of viable local enterprises, enhance productivity and increasing the resiliency to climate change of producers, smallholder and fisher groups.

As of the end of December 2014, De Mesa said a total of 195 project proposals worth around P11 billion are already in the pipeline under the I-BUILD component, around P2.6 billion of which was allotted for Mindanao.

He said around P5.3 billion worth of projects are now in the bidding and procurement stage while P216 million are already in the construction or implementation stage.

The first sub-project that was implemented under the infrastructure component was the P213.9-million farm-to-market road in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat, he said.

The project, which comprises nine components, spans a total of 17.42 kilometers in three farming villages of Isulan.

PRDP, though the DA and the World Bank, shoulders 90 percent of the total project cost while the local government assumes the remaining 10 percent.

Under the I-REAP component, De Mesa said they received and started the processing of 34 project proposals worth around P447.7 million, of which around 247.1 million will be implemented in Mindanao.

He said they already issued a certificate of no objection to proceed to the procurement stage of the P39-million cassava granules production and marketing project of the Polo Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative based in Polomolok town in South Cotabato.

The project, which is expected to benefit around 1,600 farmers and farm laborers, is the first project that will be implemented under the PRDP’s enterprise development component, he said.

De Mesa added that the PRDP will shoulder 60 percent of the total project cost while the provincial government of South Cotabato and the cooperative-beneficiary will share 20 percent each. (MindaNews)