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WB approves $170M funding for PHL rural projects

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THE World Bank has approved $170 million in additional funding for programs that seek to develop provinces Philippines by building more roads, bridges, and irrigation systems.

In a statement, the multilateral lender announced on Friday that it will be extending a bigger credit line for the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which is a nationwide initiative led by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The World Bank’s board of executive directors approved the additional funding for the project, with the view that these initiatives will “boost rural incomes and reduce poverty” in the country.

The PRDP is a six-year national project that aims to establish a modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fisheries sector. It focuses on building infrastructure for the agricultural sector such as farm-to-market roads and bridges, communal irrigation systems, potable water supply, solar dryers, greenhouses and composting facilities.

Crafted in 2014, the PRDP aims to help at least 2 million farmers and fisherfolk in the countryside by improving rural road networks and providing support to small businesses. The World Bank extended a $501-million loan and grant package for the program.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the expansion of the PRDP in October 2016, which now covers 81 provinces. The expanded pipeline needs P21 billion in fresh funds, on top of the P27 billion previously financed by the World Bank.

“An initial assessment of the project documents its extensive benefits, including an increase in average household incomes by almost 60%, amongst communities with rehabilitated farm-to-market roads; a 43% reduction of travel time in those communities with better roads; and a 54% reduction of hauling costs of agricultural inputs,” the World Bank said in a statement.

Under the program, the DA together with local government units will roll out 232 projects that will deliver a cumulative 1,700 kilometers of roads and bridges, 100 post-harvest facilities, 18 small-scale irrigation facilities covering 1,800 hectares, and 512 enterprise projects with some 100,000 direct beneficiaries.

The DA previously said they are borrowing $450 million from the World Bank, which will support a host of projects costing around P15.56 billion. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez

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