Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DA rallies Bicol LGUs into heightened participation in climate-smart agriculture

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) –- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is rallying provincial governments in Bicol into intensified participation in the ongoing implementation of a foreign-funded program that serves as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region.

The program is named Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) whose national implementation carries P27.535 billion in total fund -- consisting of P20.553 billion loan from the World Bank, P3.579 billion as national government counterpart, P3.118 billion equity of the local government units and P287-million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

It involves 80 provincial local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders nationwide in realizing the goals of improved food security and increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced policy environment and governance.

Its implementation from 2013 to 2019 has identified four -- Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon — of the six provinces in Bicol as beneficiaries that the DA is engaging in orientation-meetings on investments for Agri-Fishery Microfinance Program (AFMP) to support farmers and fisher folk engaged in priority commodities.

AFMP is a joint program of the DA, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and the Land Bank of the Philippines to improve the incomes of small farm and fishing households through improved access to financial services that can help enable them to diversify income sources and improve the profitability of their main agricultural or fishing activities.

Albay was chosen as among the beneficiaries with coconut as the priority commodity focused on coco coir and virgin coconut oil as identified under the province’s Value Chain Assessment.

Ruben Limos, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer for Albay, said the project will have a big impact on the coconut industry of the province since 40,200 hectares of its total 103,774 hectares agricultural land is planted to coconut.

The development of enterprises on coco coir and virgin coconut oil will create more jobs and added income for the coconut farmers whose majority relies only on copra trading.

For Catanduanes, the provincial government is yet to decide on one of the three commodities—abaca, coconut and crab -- identified for the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP) while Sorsogon has chosen pili.

Masbate has not decided yet on the specific commodity, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas based here, on Monday said.

The orientation-meetings are focused on the four components of the program--I-PLAN (Planning at the Local and National Levels, I-BUILD (Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development), I-REAP (Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agri-Fishery Productivity and I-SUPPORT (Support to Program Implementation).

Bragas said the provincial governments are being taught by the DA how to prepare their PCIPs which is a requirement for fund allocation from the program that would be released directly to the province.

A PCIP is a product of the value-chain analysis and interventions focused on the identified commodity and orientations on this are being conducted to familiarize provincial governments and their planning teams on the process of its preparation using the same analysis, Bragas said.

The PRDP is also being implemented in collaboration with the National Convergence Initiative for synchronized delivery of programs and services to the rural communities and harmonization of priority areas to eliminate duplication and maximize complementation of activities.

The Department of Public Works and Highways is also involved to provide technical support in the design of farm-to-market roads and bridges and coordination to complement with the national road network plan.

Other agencies involved in the program are the Department of Science and Technology to provide access to research activities and transfer of developed technologies related to agriculture products and processes; Department of Trade and Industry for enterprise development; and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as support to Conditional Cash Transfer Program.

The Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD and National Anti-Poverty Commission are also involved for a more participatory planning and budgeting through involvement of grassroots organizations and communities. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/