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World Bank okays $99.3m loan for Philippines

THE World Bank has approved a $99.3-million loan to partly finance a project in the Philippines aimed at improving farmers’ competitiveness and market access.

In a statement on Saturday, the Washington-based multilateral lender said its board of executive directors on June 9 approved financing for the Philippines’ $231-million Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness (Ipac) Project.
The Department of Agrarian Reform-led project will also be financed by the government ($131 million) as well as beneficiaries ($28 million).
The World Bank said about 300,000 farmers and farm workers stand to benefit from the project, which will “support the efforts of farmer organisations to improve productivity and the quality of products, as well as find more markets in order to raise farmers’ incomes”.
Among the targeted beneficiaries, 20 per cent are poor and 30 per cent are women, the World Bank said.
“The project, to be rolled out among agrarian reform community clusters across 44 provinces, will also help strengthen the capacity of farmer organizations to engage in commercial agriculture, provide extension services, develop enterprises, secure individual land titles for their members, and improve rural infrastructure,” the World Bank added.
The provinces that will benefit from the project include Abra, Aklan, Albay, Bataan, Basilan, Batangas, Benguet, Bohol, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Cebu, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Eastern Samar, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Iloilo, Isabela, La Union, Lanao del Sur, Leyte, Maguindanao, Marinduque, Masbate, Misamis Occidental, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Sorsogon, Tarlac, Western Samar and Zambales.
“Through the project, farmers and other beneficiaries will be able to directly identify and implement activities that will empower them to improve their lives. As a long-term partner of the Philippines, the World Bank supports the country’s efforts to develop a competitive farming sector that may bring down poverty and vulnerability in rural areas,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for the Philippines.
“The country’s agrarian reform programme gives lands to landless farmers, but we don’t stop there,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano was quoted by the World Bank as saying. “Through the farmer-driven matching grants, Ipac will strengthen our efforts to help small-holder farmers and their organisations engage in sustainable agri-enterprise projects. This will raise their incomes and help them become self-reliant.”
According to the World Bank, the matching grants that will be channelled via farmers’ groups will fund construction of production facilities (such as green houses and nurseries), processing and marketing facilities, product development, production of high-value agricultural products, and promotion of food safety. World Bank documents showed that the loan would mature in 25 years, with a grace period of 10 years.
Ipac was among the nine projects approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board, chaired by the president, during its first.
The 10.2-billion pesos Ipac “will enhance linkage of 300,000 farmers and 650 farmer organisations to viable markets and establish productive partnerships with private enterprises, and is expected to generate 30,000 jobs for landless farmers and women,” Neda said last year. According to Neda, Ipac “will focus on developing agribusiness synergies in financially-viable production of copra, organic and low-chem rice, cacao, cassava, coffee, oil palm, Muscovado sugar, abaca, and rubber”.

Published : June 11, 2017


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