World Bank conducts 3rd support mission for PH’s rural development project
The World Bank starts today its implementation support mission to the Department of Agriculture-led Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) with a kick-off meeting at the DA’s central office in Quezon City.
A team of experts from the World Bank headed by Frauke Jungbluth, the lead agriculture economist and task team leader of the mission, will attend meetings and subproject site visits in the Project’s clusters in North Luzon, which covers 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 second implementation support mission conducted April this year that earned the PRDP a satisfactory performance rating from the World Bank, just like in the earlier review mission held in November last year.
The mission seeks to review the achievements towards the project development objectives (PDOs) and continue the review and discussions on the Government’s proposal for additional financing from the World Bank, among others.
At the end of the 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.
P17.75 billion-worth infrastructure, P540 million-worth enterprise projects
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol said that as of November 4, 2016, the infrastructure component of the Project has so far approved the funding of 354 infrastructure development subprojects worth P17.75 billion and 215 enterprise development subprojects worth P540.67. million.
This translates to 71 of the 81 targeted provinces already having approved subprojects under the Project and P18.3 billion-worth of assistance for high value commodities such as abaca, coconut, banana, dairy coffee, cacao and goat.
“Most of the approved infrastructure subprojects are farm-to-market roads (FMRs), the equivalent length of which totals to 1,318.11 kilometers, including an additional 226 kilometer-long FMRs with bridges. We have already completed 18 FMRs stretching to 57 kilometers, while 179 FMRs equivalent to 668 kilometers are at various stages of construction,” Piñol said.
The Secretary noted that aside from the total approved subprojects, there are 330 pipelined subprojects amounting to P25.17 billion and 222 projects under procurement with P9.87 billion budget.
The agriculture chief added that several communal irrigation system (CIS) subprojects that cover 150 hectares are already functional and that 47 completed potable water system subprojects are already serving 16,357 households.
For the enterprise development component of the Project, the DA reported that it has already approved 215 enterprises worth P504.67 million. These include microenterprises (formerly called small livelihood projects) mostly proposed in areas severely hit by natural calamities such as the Bohol earthquake and Typhoons Yolanda, Lando and Nona, to help farmers and fishers recover from their lost livelihoods.
“We also have some P971 million-worth of pipelined subprojects under the enterprise development component,” Piñol added.
Harnessing emerging benefits
DA Undersecretary for Operations Engr. Ariel T. Cayanan, who also serves as the PRDP’s national project director, said that while the agency has diligently focused on attaining the Project’s development objectives, the department also wants to highlight that there have been unintended outcomes that have emerged from the Project’s implementation.
“We are in the process of comprehensively documenting these emerging benefits—which may be social, economic and even environmental and political—and we are encouraging our grassroots partners to harness these to optimize future Project outcomes,” Cayanan said.
Among these benefits documented by the Project include improved access to education and healthcare facilities, higher retention rates among students, increased number of tourists, increased real estate value, among others.
Cayanan also highlighted how the tools introduced by the Project has created demand for participation, transparency and accountability and helped LGUs and partner farmer-fisherfolk organizations improve their planning and management practices.
“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,” Cayanan added.
As of November 4, 2016 79 of the 81 targeted provinces already have PCIPs, which are based on value chain analyses conducted with the assistance of the PRDP.
Meanwhile, the proposed expansion of the Project has inched towards its approval with the endorsement from the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority in September this year.
The $450-million (P20.9-billion) proposed expansion of the DA’s flagship platform for modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fisheries development will primarily address the current P19.18-billion World Bank loan proceeds shortage for the Project’s rural infrastructure development portfolio.
According to PRDP National Director Cayanan, without assured additional resources under the agency, the DA cannot commit to funding the remaining rural infrastructures proposed for under the Project even with equities from the national government and local government units (LGUs).
Besides the lack of internal funding resources from the DA, the agency pushes for the expansion of the PRDP to sustain institutional and governance reforms that the Project has introduced.
“The expansion is vital to sustain the momentum for mainstreaming governance reforms not only in the DA but also across partner agencies and LGUs,” Cayanan said, adding that the PRDP has been known to have revolutionized ways of doing business in and with the DA, introducing innovations in enhancing transparency, accountability and participation mechanisms.
Under the request for additional financing, the DA is also proposing to explore with the World Bank how to further strengthen and sustain the PRDP project-approach and institutional reforms, integrating these into the DA’s regular programming and budgeting processes.
The PRDP is now on the process of complying with required documents and milestones by NEDA and other concerned agencies for the proposed expansion to be finally approved on the side of the government.
The DA targets to secure the government’s final endorsement by January 2017 for the negotiations with the World Bank to proceed. ### (Jan P. Dacumos and Alladin S. Diega, DA-PRDP NPCO InfoACE Unit)