The agriculture sector will be the driving force towards reducing poverty and achieving a progressive Mindanao.
This is the intent of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala as he encouraged local chief executives in Mindanao to fast-track implementation of the Mindanao Rural Development Program 2 (MRDP2) and pave way to its Phase-3.
MRDP, the DA’s flagship poverty alleviation initiative in Mindanao, has a total fund of US$123.96 million from the loan portfolio of the World Bank, and equity share of the national government and the local government units (LGUs).
The program is under the Adaptable Program Loan (APL) portfolio of the World Bank where the satisfactory performance of the present APL triggers for the preparation and approval of the next APL or a new loan portfolio.
“We need to perform well. Improve our physical accomplishments and fund utilization for us to continue creating more agricultural opportunities in Mindanao,” said Alcala in a meeting with over 100 local chief executives in Cagayan de Oro last week.
Sec. Alcala has vouched on the vast agricultural potential of Mindanao in achieving food sufficiency as its soils are fertile and rich, people are resilient and the region is seldom visited by typhoon.
To set the fast-tracking activities in motion, Sec. Alcala has set March 31, 2011 as deadline for all LGUs to submit all proposals to the program in order to focus on implementation and reach target disbursement of 60 percent of the loan portfolio.
“I wish that by mid-term evaluation of the program, our disbursement will reach 60 percent,” Alcala said.
On the agreement between World Bank and the Philippine government, phase 3 will be initiated upon reaching at least 60 percent disbursement of the present APL (MRDP2).
Among other triggers for the third phase MRDP will be the satisfactory performance of MRDP2 on its mid-term evaluation on key results indicators: the improvement of incomes on rural households and degree of initiative of LGUs in instituting concrete mechanisms for sustainability.
It is also expected that before the phase three provincial government units are fully engaged in the program having prepared a provincial development plan aligned with its annual budgetary allocations.
“We are now approaching the mid-term of the program and so far, DA and the World Bank has seen positive results of our efforts. Fishermen and farmers alike have increased their incomes, improved their agricultural practices, and has rekindle hope among the poor communities in Mindanao,” Program director Lealyn A. Ramos said.
Ramos added that the major bottleneck of the program has always been the providing the equity share for its projects.-30-MINDANAO RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM