World Bank eyes Mindanao for pilot agri projects after PRDP

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Even as the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) is carried out across the country in line with the Duterte administration’s promotion of inclusive growth in the agriculture sector, the World Bank (WB) is already eyeing Mindanao as a pilot area for other programs when the PRDP ends in 2021.

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In a recent meeting with top Department of Agriculture (DA) officials, the WB expressed interest in the conceptualization and roll-out of agricultural development programs post-PRDP, as well as smaller interventions that may be immediately implemented in addition to sub-projects currently being pursued under the PRDP.

The bank sees Mindanao as the entry point for a new engagement with the Philippine government, following the steps taken under the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), the PRDP’s precursor.

Mara Warwick, World Bank country director, said that her team met earlier with Department of Finance officials and discussed a broader framework of engagement for Mindanao and other areas of the country.

Initial engagement will focus on comprehensive improvement of agricultural productivity along key value chains, hence strengthening production, connectivity and logistics, including human capital, she said.

Warwick said that on top of the PRDP, the Bank considers exploring new program models that may be more community-based. These may not also necessarily follow the requirements observed under the PRDP, she added.

DA Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol expressed his appreciation of the Bank’s continued interest, saying that even during the implementation of MRDP, which eventually evolved into what the PRDP is now, engagements with the Bank have shown good potential.

Asked for his initial ideas, Secretary Piñol said that Sulu is one Mindanao province that is in immediate need of these development programs because of security-related issues in the area.

“The government cannot win this “war” by killing the Abu Sayyaf but by addressing poverty in the province,” the agriculture chief said, adding that just like what happened in Germany during World War II, the most effective way of liberating an area from enemy hands is through immediate development of that area.

“For the war against poverty in Sulu to be effective, there is a need to put up a barangay center, a post harvest facility, a water system, and immediately introduce livelihood projects after liberating a village,” he added.

The World Bank plans to conduct field scoping missions this week with various teams looking into possible engagement areas like trade, connectivity, human development, road network and logistics, as well as agricultural productivity.

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