Major Rural Development Program To Boost Central Visayas Farmers’ Competitiveness

CEBU CITY, Cebu - In a bid to make the country's agricultural sector more competitive, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to implement a rural development program in six regions across the country, including Central Visayas, which will primarily designed to increase the productivity and income of farmers in said areas.

Aside from Cebu, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala's recent trip to the region saw him visiting Dumaguete and Valencia in Negros Oriental where he met with farmers, fisherfolk, livestock growers and other agricultural stakeholders as well as local government officials to discuss major problems and discuss strategies to increase the productivity and income of Visayan farm and marine agriculture workers.

"The country's agricultural sector continues to be a promising economic driver for the country amid the emergence of industries like tourism and business process outsourcing," Alcala said.

During his visit, Alcala presented the
proposed medium-term Central Philippines Rural Development Program (CPRDP), which the DA intends to submit to the World Bank (WB) for consideration and possible funding.

Alcala, expressing hope that the DA will seek for a $300-million loan with the World Bank (WB) for this project, said, "I am positive that this partnership will push through because of the success of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP)."

The CPRDP is designed as a poverty-alleviation ini¬tiative patterned after the MRDP, which is now on its second phase. This project will be initially implemented in six regions - 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7 and 8 - in partnership with provincial and munici¬pal government units.

According to Alcala, the CPRDP is similar to the MRDP, which seeks to im¬prove incomes of farmers and fisherfolk in rural com¬munities, and achieve food security through infrastruc¬ture, financing, capacity-building and other support services.

However, he pointed out that un¬like the MRDP, which adopts a 50-40-10 counter-parting scheme from the WB, DA and local government units (LGUs), respectively to bankroll infrastructure, livelihood and community projects, the CPRDP is proposing an 80-20 counter-parting ratio, wherein the DA and the LGUs will each share 10 percent of the to¬tal project cost and the remaining 80 percent will be sourced from pro¬gram funds.

Alcala said the CPRDP will also focus on the expansion and establishment of alternative and expan¬sion areas for staple foods in South¬ern Luzon, Bicol and Visayas.

He said these will augment crop and fishery production areas in Luzon and Mindanao, both of which are affected by uncertain weather conditions.

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