PH, World Bank seal US$600-million loan to enhance agri and fisheries sector

The Government of the Philippines, through the Department of Finance (DOF), and the World Bank (WB) signed a US$600-million loan agreement on July 7, 2023 for the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up, which is geared towards transforming agriculture into a modernized and industrialized sector through public infrastructure interventions and strengthening the commodity value chain.

PRDP Scale-Up, a major initiative of the Department of Agriculture (DA), is an expanded response to the persistent challenges confronting the agriculture and fisheries (A&F) sector and rural communities in the country.

In particular, the Project will boost farmer and fisherfolk access to markets, increase income from selected agri-fishery value chains, and improve efficiency in the food supply chain.

In a stakeholder meeting last June 6, 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. emphasized the need to develop the agriculture sector not only in terms of production, but also in ensuring the welfare of farmers and fisherfolk. The President’s thrust for a modernized agriculture and agribusiness sector is envisioned to spur social and economic transformation, as detailed in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.

The Project will cover 16 regions composed of 82 provinces in the country, focusing on areas where about half of the Philippines’ 109.03-million A&F population resides.

It will entail direct investments in rural infrastructure and enterprise sub-projects, which will directly benefit about 450,000 farmers and fisherfolk and generate about 42,000 new jobs.

Amounting to US$818 million (PHP45.01 billion) in total, the remaining US$218 million will be funded by the National Government (NG) and involved local government units (LGUs).

The WB has been supporting the project since 2014, and has provided two additional loans in 2018 and 2021.

Upon the completion of the Project, the DA aims to facilitate its transition into a regular locally-funded program to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the project’s interventions.

As of July 2023, the total WB official development assistance (ODA) loan and grant commitments amount to an estimated US$7.94 billion.