WB, EU extend P16-B more funds to DA

The Department of Agriculture's (DA) Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the largest World Bank-funded project in the country, has been extended up to July 2025 and has received additional foreign funds of about P16 billion.

In a statement, DA said the project got additional funding came from the World Bank and the European Union after it . Of the total funding, World Bank will extend P14 billion or $280 million and P2 billion or €18.3 million from the European Union.

The project was supposed to end in 2020, but the DA managed to ask for an extension from the World Bank.

Originally, PRDP was extended until 2022 and will only receive an additional budget of more than $100 million. But in September this year, PRDP National Deputy Project Director Shandy Hubilla revealed that the DA wants to further extend the project beyond 2024.

"We thank the World Bank and the EU for this huge assistance. The PRDP is really a shining platform for enhancing agricultural development of the Philippines,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The fresh round of funding is expected to benefit more than 300,000 farmers and rural folks in the Philippine countryside. It is also enough to support 267 climate-resilient rural infrastructure, 287 enterprise development sub-projects, warehouse facilities, solar dryers, greenhouses, and irrigation and potable water projects, among others.

Launched in 2013, PRDP began as a farm-to-market road (FMR) initiative until it was eventually expanded to cover several livelihood components meant to improve the lives of agriculture workers in the country.

The project is now divided into two components — I-Build (infrastructure projects) and I-Reap (projects on the production, processing, and marketing activities for agriculture-fishery products).

To date, Dar said 454 rural infrastructure sub-projects have been approved under PRDP, of which 261 sub-projects were already completed. Combined, these projects are expected to benefit 608,887 households.

Likewise, around 1,229 kilometers of FMRs were completed under PRDP, while 859 kilometers are under construction.

As for the enterprise projects, more than 637 were already approved, 70 percent of these have been completed. Combined, these projects should benefit 136,267 farmers.

On Friday, the DA and World Bank released a report highlighting the need to scale up agricultural production among small farmers through clustering.

The report said that organizing small-scale farmers into cooperatives and various types of producers' organizations and helping them forge partnerships with agribusiness firms can help raise their incomes and subsequently spur the socio-economic transformation of the Philippine countryside.

One notable example of this approach, the report said, is the PRDP, which clusters producers into enterprises that take a business-oriented approach to farming and fishing, supported through complementary investments in infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation, post-harvest facilities, and cold storage.

“To succeed, efforts at clustering and consolidation needs to be voluntary, built on trust and confidence, and collaborative relationships among stakeholders—whether they are farmers, communities, municipalities, other local government units, or small and larger agribusiness enterprises,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

“Where different approaches to clustering land management are not feasible, support for the mechanization of farming and post-harvest operations may be an alternative or complementary strategy for smallholder-based systems to increase farmer productivity and incomes, both on and off the farm," he added.