World Bank approves $600-M loan to help PH farmers, fisherfolk
MANILA -Additional support will be provided to farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines with the World Bank (WB) Group approving a $600-million loan to build on the momentum of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) that was launched in 2014.
Implemented by the Department of Agriculture, PRDP was designed to increase market access and incomes for almost half a million farmers and fisherfolk across the country.
The World Bank said the new initiative, PRDP Scale-Up, will expand the implementation of the original project, which had been instrumental in strengthening the agriculture and fisheries sectors, bolstering rural infrastructure, and enhancing connectivity.
Financing will come from a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank Group.
The Scale-Up is designed to support access for micro- to medium-scale agricultural and fishery enterprises to resources, knowledge, and income-generating activities.
The intention is to stimulate further growth in these critical sectors and strengthen the Philippines’ rural economy.
“Almost 60 percent of the poor work in agriculture in the Philippines, so accelerating the growth of agriculture and fishery is vital for the country’s development overall and for poverty reduction,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for the Philippines.
“Improving access to markets will help farmers and fisherfolk in rural areas raise their incomes, provide for their families, and elevate their standards of living,” said.
Funding will support inputs, production, procession, marketing, and enterprise management. The project also aims to increase participation of women in these activities.
Mio Takada, senior agriculture economist at the World Bank, noted that PRDP concentrated on spurring growth among farming and fishing enterprises.
“The Scale-Up takes this further, emphasizing support throughout the value chain, from production through to marketing, ultimately increasing the competitiveness and profitability of these businesses,” Takada said.
Further, the new phase of PDRP will fund climate-proof infrastructure, including more roads, bridges, irrigation systems, and post-harvest storage facilities such as warehouses, drying, and cold storage.
To help ensure a stable supply of food and agricultural products in markets, the follow-up will also provide improved technology to reduce post-harvest losses and put in place more efficient logistics.
The multilateral lender said the Scale-Up will prioritize fewer but larger programs, increasing support for investments that will have benefits beyond the immediate project area, including research and development, infrastructure, market connectivity, and biosecurity.
Related to these, the new project will provide enterprise grants to support farmers’ and fisherfolk cooperatives, associations, and local government units.