World Bank begins PDRP review

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THE World Bank on Monday commenced its implementation support mission for the Department of Agriculture-led Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) with an initial meeting at the DA’s central office in Quezon City.

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A team of experts from the World Bank led by Frauke Jungbluth, the lead agriculture economist and task team leader of the mission, will attend meetings and sub-project site visits in the PRDP’s clusters in North Luzon covering the Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions; South Luzon, which covers the CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol Regions; Visayas; and Mindanao.

This mission follows the first implementation support mission conducted September last year which earned the PRDP a satisfactory performance rating from the World Bank.

The mission seeks to review the achievements toward the project development objectives (PDOs), and specifically the performance and progress on monitoring and evaluation; financial management, procurement and disbursement; and social and environmental safeguards mechanisms and arrangements, among others.

At the end of the mission, the DA hopes that it will have discussed and agreed with the World Bank and other stakeholders the solutions for technical issues that have arisen since the previous mission.

P13.67B infra, enterprise projects
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the week before the mission, the PDRP has so far approved the funding of 223 infrastructure development sub-projects worth P13.67 billion and 104 enterprise development sub-projects worth P292.59 million.

“Most of the approved infrastructure sub-projects are FMRs [farm-to-market roads], the equivalent length of which totals to 1,263 kilometers. We have already completed five kilometers in three sub-project sites, while 440 and 880 kilometers are at various stages of construction and procurement, respectively,” Alcala said.

The DA chief noted that the total proposals for infrastructure already amount to almost P40 billion, which is already way beyond the P18.53 billion earmarked for rural infrastructures.

“We are now seeking at least P21 billion additional financing from the World Bank to cover more eligible infrastructure development proposals,” Alcala said.

For the enterprise development component of the Project, the DA reported that it has already approved at 82 small livelihood projects (SLPs) worth P70 million, mostly in areas severely hit by natural calamities such as the Bohol earthquake and Typhoons Yolanda, Lando and Nona. These SLPs seek to help farmers and fishers recover from their lost livelihood due to these calamities.

“Under our enterprise development component, we have already received at least 300 business plans from 66 provinces,” Alcala said.

Included in the 300 enterprise development portfolio are 12 other SLPs proposed for funding under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant. These sub-projects will operate in GEF-identified marine protected areas.

Harnessing emerging benefits
DA Undersecretary Emerson Palad, who also serves as the PRDP’s national director, said that while the agency has diligently focused on attaining the PDOs, the DA also wants to highlight that there have been unintended outcomes that emerged from the project’s initial implementation.

“We have yet to comprehensively document these emerging benefits but as early as now, we encourage our grassroots partners to harness these to optimize project outcomes, or make relevant DA and non-DA interventions work better for our local partners,” Palad said, adding that emerging benefits are not limited to economic outcomes.

“In the governance purview, for example, we have been able to create demand for participation, transparency and accountability with the innovative tools and processes that we have introduced. This strengthens our relationship with our stakeholders and improves the way we do business with them,” Palad explained.

Palad said that the participatory nature of producing Provincial Commodity Investment Plans (PCIPs), for instance, has enabled LGUs to come up with comprehensive and effective reference documents that are now used by LGUs for rationalized planning and for accessing funding and technical assistance from institutions other than the DA or PRDP.

Institutionalization outlook
Alcala said that the PRDP’s implementation does not only revolve around the attainment of its development objectives, adding that the project is regarded as a major platform for governance innovation and learning by the DA.

He added that the DA is gearing toward mainstreaming the PRDP’s innovative tools in DA and non-DA programs and projects.

“I hope to see these tools, as well as the best practices of the PRDP, being scaled up, replicated—and better yet, institutionalized through policies and programs that support our quest for long-term institutional reforms,” Alcala said.

“For instance, we hope to see that, with the PRDP as inspiration, a system will be eventually put in place to harmonize planning and budgeting in the whole of the DA bureaucracy,” Alcala said.

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