• Korean agri project in Quirino ‘exceeds targets’

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    A three-year project in Quirino Province, launched in 2013 with a $5 million grant from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), has “exceeded its goals and targets” of reducing rural poverty, expanding agricultural production and restoring the local watershed, the program’s project manager said.

    The Quirino Integrated Agricultural Development Project (QIADP) is a collaboration between KOICA, the Korea Institute for Rural Development (KIRD), and the provincial government of Quirino, which contributed $58,000 (P3 million) in funds to the project.

    QIADP involved the construction of farm-to-market roads, establishment of a feed mill and mushroom-production facilities, training of farmers through a demonstration of improved farming technologies for agroforestry, and boosting of agriculture credit through the extension of micro finance to farmers.

    Thelma Bicarme of the Philippine Information Agency explained the project was implemented from 2013 to 2016, and involved visits from Korean technical experts, training of local officials and personnel in Korea, and conducting a capacity building program for farmer-beneficiaries.

    Today, Bicarme said, QIADP has successfully developed four programs for agro-forestry, livestock, vegetable cultivation, and fruit tree and forest tree planting.

    Dr. Chung Ki Whan, QIADP project manager, said that based on their monitoring and evaluation, they “exceeded their goals and targets” and the success of the project is “the result of the sweat of the people of Quirino.”

    Ki Whan said the project also provided three training courses, a Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement) Leadership Training Course, one for Technical Staff Training, and a High Ranking Policy Making study tour.

    He noted the training opportunities provided for 1,493 farmers participating in the project expanded capacity and production in cattle raising, vegetable growing, fruit tree and forest tree planting, ago-forestry development, and agro-tourism.

    Provincial govt contribution
    Ki Whan said he was grateful for the provincial government of Quirino for its contribution of P3 million used to purchase nursery, model farm construction, and for the implementation of the agroforestry model. The provincial government’s contribution was voluntary, and not part of the original grant arrangement.

    The provincial government also provided manpower to operate the Project Management Unit in Cabbaroguis town for planning, implementation, and monitoring of the project’s progress.

    Ki Whan expressed optimism for the expansion of the project into additional areas with the support of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly with respect to the agroforestry policy of the provincial government.

    Quirino Governor Junie Cua noted the results and lessons learned in the implementation of the KOICA project, and said that the next objective should be further intervention and replication in barangays (villages) not served.

    “We need to lay the foundation for further intervention so that the gains made in the project activities will be maximized,” Cua said.

    Cua noted that a quarter of the province’s 40,000 farming households are living below the poverty line.

    “Since not all farming households were covered by the project, what we need to do is to replicate it in the remaining 6,400 barangays to maximize the gains in QIADP,” Cua said.

    He also stressed the need to sustain protection of the environment under the agroforestry component of the project through integrated farming systems in rice, corn, cattle, fishpond, vegetable, fruit and forest trees production.

    “Quirino is strategically located as head source of Cagayan River, thus protecting the environment would mean protection for the whole valley [of Cagayan],” Cua said.

    Credit expansion
    In September, the provincial government expanded agricultural credit with the launching of the Quirino Agricultural Credit (QAC) program. Currently, the program has a total of P9,646,443 in outstanding loans to 448 farmers in 22 barangays in the province.

    Originally the microcredit was limited to QIADP-participating farmers in six sites focusing on cattle fattening, vegetable production, mushroom production, and fruit tree growing.

    QAC manager Jun Biagan said that due to many requests coming from other villages, the governor has requested KOICA to expand the microcredit program to the entire province and consider the financing of other agri-related projects such as rice production and root crops cultivation.

    QAC is managed by the Provincial Operating Committee (POC) composed of the provincial administrator, the QIADP coordinator, and the KOICA representative.

    “We gave them (the farmers) the privilege to look for their own stocks (calf, piglets, vegetable seeds and fruit-tree seedlings) provided it was within the set requirements of the project and should pass the inspections conducted by the authorized inspectors,” Biagan said.

    Biagan said there is a need for a constant monitoring of the individual project status and constant coordination with the technical support providers to ensure sustainability of the project and to improve collections.

    Cua said that in order to sustain QIADP, the project beneficiaries will be organized into cooperatives to have access to bank loans and that collaboration with funding agencies will be strengthened with a holistic approach to integrate other sectors such as health and education.

    He said there is a need for strong social preparation of the program by inculcating in the beneficiaries the need to change attitude.

    “We need to integrate the concept of Saemul Undong [New Village Movement], inculcating the value of diligence, self-help, cooperation and respect for the law,” Cua said.

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