The Department of Agriculture (DA) urged local chief executives in Western Visayas to focus their investments on critical infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads and small irrigation systems through the World Bank-aided Philippine Rural Development Project so as to foster more inclusive growth.
Speaking at a regional farmers’ and fisherfolk’s forum in Iloilo City, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said such investments help create more sustainable and stable sources of livelihood and incomes in their respective areas.
He cited the status of irrigation development in Western Visayas, which he said could be further improved to strengthen the status of the region as a major rice producer.
Citing available data, the DA chief said that only 65,000 hectares (or roughly 20 percent) of the region’s 330,000 hectares of rice farms are being served by national irrigation systems.
“This means that a majority of the rice production areas are either served by small water impounding projects and communal systems or are considered rain fed,” Alcala said.
To take make of these areas, he said that will lobby before the World Bank the inclusion of small water impounding projects in the PRDP menu.
“We also need small water impounding projects that will surely change the lives of Filipino farmers,” Alcala said.
PRDP is a DA-implemented six-year initiative that started in 2014 that employs the value chain approach in the identification and approval of projects to be funded. It means that that the approval of a project will depend on the feasibility of its proposed farm- or fisheries-based enterprise, in keeping with its provincial commodity investment plan that DA helped prepare.