Manila, Philippines—The World Bank (WB) has commended the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the successful kick-off of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which has already allotted at least P11.4 billion (B) for sub-projects by early January.

WB Task Team Leader Carolina Geron lauded the partnership of the DA and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in implementing PRDP, during a meeting with Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and other DA and WB officials on February 13, 2015 in Quezon City.

“With just two months, the project has already mobilized implementing units which resulted in a substantial pipeline,” Geron continued. PRDP was declared effective on December 3, 2014.

She added that representatives from other countries including Mongolia are interested to visit the Philippines to see the good strides of what the DA is doing in PRDP.

“In a way, you are already giving back to the global community with what you are doing,” Geron continued.

The WB team has recently completed a series of reviews in four clusters namely—North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to check the on-going preparation of sub-projects under the PRDP and assess the readiness of both the DA and the LGUs in executing the project.

Alcala likened PRDP’s conception into a “healthy baby” who has grown so fast, adding that the national government has a good projection of the project.

The Agri chief also recognized the importance of collaboration with the LGU, World Bank, national agencies and other stakeholders, for the successful implementation of the project, stressing that the project would not be successful if DA has to do it alone.

He added that more than providing financial assistance to LGUs, the project will offer “out of the box” solutions to promote efficient implementation of rural development projects from the national office down to the regions and LGUs, which the DA can also share to other countries.

One of the tools used and promoted under the PRDP is the “geo-tagging” of sub-projects, which promote correct and transparent implementation of projects on the ground.

In a separate interview, Alcala stressed the importance of geo-tagging in implementing farm-to-market road (FMR) projects.

“Before, FMRs were executed without proper basis, but with geo-tagging we see to it that all proposed FMRs should connect to the national road networks,” he added.

Because of the unprecedented success of geotagging, DA has been tapped by other national agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways and National Irrigation Administration—“so they can adopt the same technology.”

PRDP, a P27.48-billion project, implemented under the DA has funding support from a World Bank loan, the national government and LGU. It aims to develop the economy in the rural areas while increasing incomes of rural farmers and fishers. # # # (Catherine Nanta, Department of Agriculture)