World Bank okays $600-M loan to boost farmers’, fishers’ income

By Anna Leah Gonzales

June 30, 2023, 5:02 pm

MANILA – The World Bank on Friday approved a USD600-million loan to further increase the market access and income of almost half a million farmers and fisherfolk in the country.

In a statement, the World Bank said the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up, would expand on the implementation of the PRDP launched in 2014 by the Department of Agriculture.

Its financing will come from a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

“Almost 60 percent of the poor work in agriculture in the Philippines, so accelerating the growth of agriculture and fishery is vital for the country’s development overall and for poverty reduction,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

“Improving access to markets will help farmers and fisherfolk in rural areas raise their incomes, provide for their families, and elevate their standards of living.”

The Rural Development Project, which is being implemented in 80 provinces, including 640 municipalities and 32 cities, has reached almost 633,000 farmers, raised incomes, and improved connectivity to markets through the construction of roads and bridges, and the provision of post-harvest facilities, among other interventions.

The World Bank said Scale-Up would support access for micro- to medium-scale agricultural and fishery enterprises to resources, knowledge, and income-generating activities.

Funding will support inputs, production, procession, marketing, and enterprise management.

The project also aims to increase the participation of women in these activities.

“The Rural Development Project concentrated on spurring growth among farming and fishing enterprises. The Scale-Up takes this further, emphasizing support throughout the value chain, from production through to marketing, ultimately increasing the competitiveness and profitability of these businesses," World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist Mio Takada said.

World Bank said the scaling up of rural development support would also fund climate-proof infrastructure, including more roads, bridges, irrigation systems, and post-harvest storage facilities, such as warehouses, drying, and cold storage.

It will also provide improved technology to reduce post-harvest losses and put in place more efficient logistics to ensure a stable supply of food and agricultural products in markets.

Scale-Up will prioritize fewer but larger programs, increasing support for investments that will have benefits beyond the immediate project area, including research and development, infrastructure, market connectivity, and biosecurity.

In addition, it will provide enterprise grants to support farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives, associations, and local government units. (PNA)