UN Agency commits $18.3M for RP rice sufficiency

by Jerome Dumlao

31 October 2008, Pasig City, Philippines – The International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations is spending $18.3 million to help the Philippines improve rice production.

IFAD vice president Kanayo Nwanze announced the UN agency’s latest support for the country’s rural sector during the IFAD Knowledge and Learning Market held in Pasig City this week.

The $18.3 million investment – part of an ambitious $33.8 million program to help the Philippines meet its rice self-sufficiency targets – will go into supplying inbred seeds to farmers during the first planting season next year as, rehabilitation of communal irrigation systems, and funding dialogues for improvement of agricultural policies.

The investment is under two projects to be implemented by IFAD, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the Departments of Agriculture (DA) and Agrarian Reform (DAR), NGOs and farmers’ groups dubbed the Rapid Seed Supply Financing Project (RaSSFiP) and Irrigated Rice Production Enhancement Project (IRPEP).

Sana Jatta, IFAD country program manager for the Philippines, said the UN is concerned about the rice crisis that hit the country early this year and said IFAD is working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform to stave off its recurrence.

For the communal irrigation project, Jatta said IFAD will spend $500,000 while the FAO will put up the same amount to benefit upland dwellers, where indigenous peoples live and work, and in farms of beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The project will be implemented in the Cordillera, the Visayas and Mindanao.

Jatta said IFAD will be strictly monitoring the seed distribution program to ensure that poor landless farmers and members of indigenous groups would get the seeds, plant them and harvest the grain later on.

Nwanze said the agency has been satisfied with the work of its unit in the Philippines, and would endorse the projects proposed by Jatta in the next IFAD board meeting in December.
IFAD’s assistance to the Philippines has amounted to $125.7 million from 1978 up to the present, for 10 projects of which three are still ongoing.

Globally, IFAD is parlaying $200 million to finance programs to counter the adverse effects of spiraling food prices, noting that the Philippines is a major arena of the battle.

Along with helping the Philippines meet its food security targets, the agency is also planning to implement an agricultural value chain program and coastal resources management programs, which will be funded to the extent of $66 million in the next five years.

He said IFAD will be present in 24 poor provinces nationwide, working in projects with funding support from the Asian Development Bank. The regions targeted by IFAD are the Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the Visayas and Regions 9, 10, 12 and ARMM in Mindanao.

Next month, an additional $27 million loan for the second phase of the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Management Program Program (CHARMP) will be ready for release.

The 2nd phase of CHARMP (CHARMP 2) is a continuation of the original CHARMP that was initially granted in 1995 and ended in 2004.

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