• WB grants $508M financing for PH rural development

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    Washington-based lender World Bank (WB) has approved a  $508.25 million loan and grant package for rural infrastructure, and for small business and livelihood projects for farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines.

    Called the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the WB assistance aims to raise rural incomes and reduce poverty in the country by improving access to markets and the productivity of small farmers and fisherfolk.

    In a statement, the WB said the project would benefit close to 2 million farmers and fisherfolk, almost half of whom are women. PRDP will also indirectly benefit an estimated 22 million people, including 10 million women.

    More than 70 percent of the financial package will be used to fund infrastructure projects of local government units (LGUs), which will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

    The projects include farm-to-market roads, bridges, tire tracks, communal irrigation, potable water systems, post-harvest facilities, production facilities, fish landings, fish sanctuaries, storage facilities, trading posts, green houses, solar driers, and slope stabilization works, the WB said.

    The Bank noted that the geotagging tool, developed by the DA and currently being used to monitor agri-fishery infrastructure projects, will provide online updates on the progress of PRDP-funded projects. The package includes a US$7 million grant from the Global Environment Facility  to strengthen the conservation and protection of selected coastal and marine protected areas.

    Priority areas for conservation are the Tayabas Bay in Quezon; Green Island Bay in Palawan; Ticao Pass in Sorsogon and Masbate; Guimaras; Danajon Bank in Bohol; and Guiuan Coast in Eastern Samar.

    “Given that a significant number of poor people are in the rural areas, successful implementation of this project could boost the country’s efforts to achieve growth that creates jobs, in line with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity,” said WB Country Director Motoo Konishi.

    According to the WB, the PRDP expects to achieve the following within six years: At least 5 percent increase per year in real household annual incomes of beneficiaries, mostly farmers and fisherfolk; 30 percent increase in income for targeted beneficiaries of small business and livelihood projects; 7 percent increase in value of products sold to the market; and 20 percent increase in the number of farmers and fisherfolk with improved access to services provided by the DA.

    The WB believes that investments in rural infrastructure will benefit producers, traders, and the rural population through better transport infrastructure, reduced travel time, and improved access to markets.

    “The project will encourage farmers and fisherfolk to increase and diversify production and to engage in value-adding activities, thus yielding increased incomes. Small business and livelihood activities will also benefit small-scale and poor producers through the provision of technical assistance, training, market linkages, and financial assistance,” it said.

    For its part, the government welcomed the World Bank’s continued support for the Philippine rural development.

    Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Bank’s support through PRDP reaffirms its commitment to the agriculture sector, particularly in creating jobs and generating opportunities to improve the lives of farmers and fisherfolk.

    “This project is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan of establishing a competitive and sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector, and echoes the new Country Partnership Strategy geared toward more inclusive growth,” he said.

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