CENTRAL VISAYAS - Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has pledged to provide relief to Central Visayas farmers by implementing a rural development program the implementation of which proved to be effective in Mindanao.
Alcala met with local officials in Cebu, Dumaguete City and Valencia in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor from April 19 to 20 and discussed the possibility of implementing such a program.
Along with local officials, the DA Secretary also met with farmers, fishers, livestock growers and other agricultural stakeholders to resolve major problems and discuss strategies to further increase productivity and incomes of farmers and fisherfolk in the Visayas.
Alcala revealed that he has made a proposal involving a medium-term development plan for the region for possible financing by the World Bank (WB).
The plan, called the Central Philippines Rural Development Program (CPRDP), is designed as a poverty-alleviation initiative aimed for implementation in Regions 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in partnership with provincial and municipal government units.
Said CPRDP is patterned after the Mindanao Rural Development Plan (MRDP) jointly funded by the WB, the DA, and local government units (LGUs).
"Just like the MRDP, the CPRDP will seek to improve incomes of Orderedfarmers and fisherfolk in rural communities and achieve food security through infrastructure, financing, capacity-building, and other support services," Alcala said, adding that "right now, we're asking the WB for a $300-million loan which we hope will be granted. I am positive this partnership will push through because of the MRDP's success of the MRDP."
He clarified that unlike the MRDP, which adopts a 50-40-10 counterparting scheme from the WB, DA and LGUs, respectively, to bankroll infrastructure, livelihood and community projects, the CPRDP proposes an 80-20 counterparting ratio, with the DA and LGUs each sharing 10 percent of total cost, with the remaining 80 percent from program funds.
Alcala said the CPRDP will also focus on the establishment of expansion areas for staple food propagation in Southern Luzon, Bicol and Visayas. Those areas will augment crop and fishery production areas in Luzon and Mindanao, both of which are affected by uncertain weather.
In Siquijor, meanwhile, Alcala and his team comprised of DA officials from national and regional offices discussed the concerns of farmers and fisherfolk, livestock raisers and local officials, which the DA Secretary instructed his party to address immediately.
Siquijor Governor Orlando A. Fua, Jr. said there is an urgent need for regular sea transport service in the province to ferry local livestock products to Cebu and other destinations, as well as a slaughterhouse which would enable the selling of meat products locally as well as in other markets.
Alcala said there are other projects, including farm-to-market roads (FMRs), ports and irrigation facilities and other infrastructure, that could be funded under the CPRDP. "I urge you to register your identified project needs and let the WB know that you are interested to be part of the CPRDP," he told Fua.