World Bank OKs $280-M rural dev’t loan
More than 300,000 people in the countryside will get a chance to improve their incomes following the World Bank’s approval of a fresh $280 million loan for an ongoing Department of Agriculture project to enhance the productivity of farms and fisheries.
The World Bank board on June 17 approved the second additional financing for the DA’s Philippine rural development project (PRDP). It will cover the bulk of the $385.44 million needed to sustain the project, which started in 2014.
The Philippine government and the World Bank are scheduled to sign the loan agreement on July 15.On top of this, the European Union extended a grant worth 18.3 million euros to the same project. This funding will support 267 climate-resilient rural infrastructure and 287 enterprise development subprojects that all aim to boost rural incomes, and strengthen planning and implementation capacities among local government units (LGUs) and producer organizations, the World Bank said in a statement.
“It will help address climate vulnerability in agriculture through a range of investments, including roads designed to withstand adverse weather events to ensure uninterrupted connectivity and access to markets; and communal irrigation subprojects to address water scarcity and avoid the risk of large-scale crop failure,” the World Bank said. Funds will also be set aside to put up warehouse facilities and solar dryers to prevent post-harvest crop losses, as well as greenhouses to protect selected crops from extreme heat and support improved water management, among others.
“This project boosts the country’s efforts to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity by targeting investments in agriculture, which is a major source of livelihood and income in the rural areas. We hope that this additional financing will further foster partnerships in productive investments between farmers’ groups and commercial buyers, contributing to improved market access and higher income opportunities for rural residents,” World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand Ndiame Diop said.
The World Bank said this additional financing would also support more LGUs in war-torn Mindanao. In particular, the EU grant will target Mindanao LGUs with a higher incidence of poverty, lower capacity, more conflict-affected areas and larger numbers of indigenous people and offer incentives for them to participate in PRDP.
The lender enjoined local governments in the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to participate in PRDP, through which the DA provides technical and financial support to the planning process of provincial, city and municipal governments, as well as in the implementation and delivery of services, rural infrastructure and enterprise development based on provincial and city commodity investment plans, value chain analyses and suitable production areas.
“This integrated planning approach is an important step in merging local priorities and national development programs, thus making the DA and local governments effective partners in the development of the farming and fishing sector,” World Bank senior agricultural economist Eli Weiss said.
This was the second of three loans for the Philippines that the World Bank scheduled for approval this month. On June 24, the World Bank’s board is also set to tackle the Department of Finance’s first financial sector reform development policy financing.
Early this month, the Washington-based development financing institution green-lit a $300-million loan to the Philippines so it can fortify government buildings in Metro Manila and prepare for “the big one” earthquake. It will cover bulk of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ $309.5-million seismic risk reduction and resilience project.
Remaining in the World Bank’s near-term pipeline for the Philippines were 12 forthcoming loans amounting to a total of $2.93 billion. —Ben O. de Vera INQ
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