By Chino S. Leyco
The government of Italy has agreed to extend its development assistance for the Philippines for another two years that would benefit Filipinos working in the agriculture sector, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.
In a statement, the DOF said that the Philippines and Italy sealed through an exchange of letter the two-year extension of the European nation’s development program for Manila after seven out of the nine projects under the loan assistance are still unfinished.
Under the Philippines-Italy debt for development program, it will support nine projects. However, the DOF said at present, only two projects have been finished, while the remaining “are being considered to receive continued support with the two-year extension of the program.”
The development loan was originally signed by the Philippines and Italy in May 2012 amounting to $3.75 million.
Among the nine projects under the program were the enhancing communities’ capacity for inclusive ecosystem management and rural economic sustainability implemented by Xavier Science Foundation.
This project aims to increase forest cover by at least 200 hectares, and improve economic opportunities within the Cagayan de Oro river basin, particularly in the upland municipalities of Talakag, Libona, and Baungon in the province of Bukidnon.
Meanwhile, the two projects whose implementation has already been completed are the Tabuk Eco-Spirituality Center Project and the Sustainable Eco-Tourism Project in the Puerto Princesa Underground River Area.
“The two-year extension of the program is expected to yield additional alternative livelihood for about 17,000 beneficiaries including farmers and fisherfolks through forest conservation and reforestation activities, sustainable and integrated agricultural practices, better coastal resource management, and more eco-tourism opportunities,” the DOF said.
“Both the Government of Italy and the Government of the Philippines are greatly satisfied with the accomplishments of the Program and find these as motivation for sustaining and enhancing development cooperation,” it added.
The Italian Embassy in Manila headed by H.E. Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino and the DOF-International Finance Group headed by Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven, facilitated the two-year extension.