Friday, April 17, 2015

DA’s advisory body approves Php1.5-B agri support infra projects for 3 Bicol provinces
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 17 (PNA) –The Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB) for Bicol of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) has approved various sub-projects worth a total of Php1.5 billion for funding and implementation in the region’s provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur this year.

Approved by the RPAB during a recent meeting held here are 13 sub-projects for the three provinces under the Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component of the project.

Among these sub-projects are the Php618.6 million construction of Tablon-Cagmanaba Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) with five bridges in Oas, Albay and the concreting of FMRs in the municipalities of Paracale, Basud and Sta. Elena -- all of Camarines Norte -- amounting to Php413.8 million.

Apart from these, the RPAB also endorsed for funding this year seven I-BUILD sub-projects worth a total of Php452 million for the municipalities of Pamplona, Del Gallego, Pasacao, Libmanan, Sipocot and Ragay—all in Camarines Sur.

The RPAB is the body that provides guidance, reviews and approves undertakings for funding under PRDP, a six-year rural development project worth over Php27.5 billion funded through a loan from World Bank amounting to Php20.56 billion and a Php7-billion counterpart from the Philippine government and local government units (LGUs).

In six years—2013-2019, PRDP aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from DA services.

In a statement reaching here Thursday, Elena de los Santos, the DA’s Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension and PRDP focal person said the newly-approved sub-projects are the first batch of proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015.

De los Santos pointed out that the RPAB’s knowledge about the PRDP process and its advantages to the farmers and fisherfolk contributed to the approval of the proposed I-BUILD sub-projects.

The board is composed of DA Regional Executive Director for Bicol Abelardo Bragas as chairman and a representative of the League of Provinces in the region as vice-chair.

Among its members are regional directors of line agencies like the Departments of Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare and Development, Budget and Management, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government and a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The approved sub-projects, according to De los Santos, will be endorsed to the Project Support Office for South Luzon of PRDP for issuance of No Objection Letter 1.

She said Bicol, which boasts of the largest agricultural area among the country’s 17 regions, was awarded last year the largest share of farm support infrastructure projects under the PRDP’s I-BUILD component worth over Php600 million.

“We hope that this year’s RPAB-approved sub-projects will get favorable action from the PRDP’s national governing body,” she added.

Included in last year’s projects are the Php131.28-million concreting of Manangle-Caima FMR in the municipality of Sipocot; Php50.67-million upgrading of Cuco-Bagong Silang FMR in Pasacao town; and the Php44.80-million rehabilitation of San Isidro to Pag-oring Nuevo Road in Libmanan -- all in the province of Camarines Sur.

These FMRs, according to Bragas, are intended to complement the Coconut Sap Sugar Processing as well as the Coco Water Processing Technology Pilot-Testing and Business Incubation Project that are both upcoming ventures introduced by the province into the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP)-- another component of the PDRP.

Two other Bicol provinces—Albay and Camarines Norte -- have also been included as PRDP I-BUILD sites, with the former initially getting some Php197 million for the rehabilitation and improvement of FMRs with three concrete bridges in Oas town and the latter, Php212 million for the concreting of the Pinagwarasan -Lanot Road in the municipalities of Basud and Mercedes.

Oas, which belongs to the third congressional district of Albay, is the largest agricultural town of the province while Basud and Mercedes are Camarines Norte’s key pineapple production area and main source of fishery products, respectively.

The DA-PRDP I-BUILD sub-project portfolio has secured a Php11.382-billion in nationwide funding to finance production, marketing and logistics support for farmers and fishers in the countryside.

The Philippine Government and the World Bank signed PRDP’s Php27.5 billion loan-and-grant agreement on September 8, 2014 and was declared effective and ready for loan drawdowns in early December 2014. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/