LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the grant of some PHP20.7 million to finance the establishment of microenterprise (ME) ventures for the recovery from economic dislocation of farmers and fisherfolk affected by past calamities in Bicol.
The fund, intended for 15 groups of recipients, will come from the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), a foreign-funded program being implemented by DA and designed as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region and other parts of the country.
The grant, which was recently announced here by the PRDP’s Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB), was based on microenterprise project proposals earlier submitted by the proponent groups from Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon -- three of the six Bicol provinces hardest hit by recent typhoons.
Catanduanes was badly hit by typhoon "Lando" in October last year while Albay and Sorsogon suffered from the onslaught of typhoon "Nona" in December, also last year.
Both weather disturbances heavily affected the livelihood of the local fisheries and agricultural sectors.
PRDP-Bicol enterprise development (I-REAP) component head Adelina Losa on Thursday said these ME sub-projects under the PDRP are aimed at providing the direct beneficiaries sustainable income-generating activities for them to be able to recoup from their losses.
She said 11 of the ME sub-projects reviewed, approved and endorsed for PRDP funding by the RPAB were proposed by groups of farmers and fisherfolk from Sorsogon who will engage, among others, in native chicken-raising, gabi (taro) and ginger production and marketing and cottage industry.
Other enterprises are seaweed production and marketing, cassava chips processing as well as organic vegetable and other food crop production.
An amount of PHP10.6 million was approved for these undertakings, Losa said.
Among the recipients is the Fisherfolk Association of Barangay Tomalaytay in Castilla, Sorsogon whose president, Roberto Salgado, said the group is using the fund granted amounting to PHP1.2 million in seaweeds production and marketing.
“Ito’y para sa unti-unting pagbangon sa kabuhayan naming mga mangingisda para maitaguyod namin ang aming pamilya sa pamamagitan ng seaweeds. Pauunlarin namin ito upang di masayang ang tiwalang ibinagay sa amin ng gobyerno. Salamat sa DA at kay Pangulong Aquino (This is for the gradual economic recovery of us, fisherfolk, for us to be able to support our family through seaweeds. We will nurture this so that the trust given us by the government is not wasted. Thanks to the DA and to Pres. Aquino),” Salgado said.
For Albay, among the sub-projects approved for funding is for the province’s Small Ruminant Raisers Association (ASRRA) whose Enhancing Farm Capacity and Adoption of Nutrition Technology for Goat Production enterprise is getting PHP1.3 million as per RPAB recommendation, according to Losa.
She said two MEs worth PHP2.7 million were also approved for the municipalities of Gigmoto and Pandan of Catanduanes whose recipients will engage in rice and broiler production and marketing.
This PHP20.7-million grant is just but partial as the RPAB, Losa said, has approved more for PRDP funding this year like the PHP2.9-million charcoal and rice hull briquette production and farm mechanization proposed by the municipalities of Esperanza and Milagros, Masbate
The RPAB, Losa said, has also approved and endorsed the PHP3.2-million Seaweeds Nursery and Production Project proposed by the Biga Farmers and Fishermen Association in Magallanes, a Sorsogon coastal town along the shoreline of Ticao Pass.
This sub-project is Bicol’s first Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported ME designed to contribute to biodiversity conservation and strengthen the coastal and marine resources base in targeted project areas.
The Ticao Pass is one of the region’s biodiversity waters pre-identified by DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as target sites for PRDP, which will integrate to its funding the PHP287-million grant from the GEF, an international organization that helps address global environmental issues to its institutional reforms.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco, who is a member of the RPAB, said awardees of I-REAP sub-project funding should see it as an opportunity for them to progress so that each group must work together on the sustainability of their approved microenterprises.
The PRAB 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 PHP7 billion counterparts 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.
On top of the recently approved PHP20.7-million I-REAP funding, DA-Bicol is also awaiting the release of the PHP1.5-billion fund for various sub-projects under the Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component of PRDP which the RPAB has approved for the provinces of Albay, Camarines sur and Camarines Norte.
Among these subprojects 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 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 subprojects worth a total of PHP452 million for the municipalities of Pamplona, Del Gallego, Pasacao, Libmanan, Sipocot and Ragay—all in Camarines Sur.
Elena de los Santos, the DA’s Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension and PRDP focal person, said these subprojects are the first batch of proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015 and subsequently approved by the RPAB. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD