THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

DA thanks ADB for $400-M program loan

Author: DA Communications Group | 13 August 2020

“On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Filipino farmers, and the Department of Agriculture, we profoundly appreciate the continuing support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), particularly its recent approval of the US$400-million loan to aid policy reforms of the Philippine government aimed at raising the productivity and competitiveness of the country’s agriculture sector, and significantly reduce poverty in rural areas.”

Thus said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, adding that “the ADB assistance will go a long way in boosting the capability of the country’s agriculture sector to ensure food security, while alleviating poverty in the countryside, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In particular, the ADB program loan will strengthen the implementation of assistance to rice farmers, promote crop diversification and climate-resistant agriculture initiatives, and improve the nutrition of rural children through a school feeding program.

“Likewise, we sincerely thank the Department of Finance, under the able leadership of Secretary Carlos Dominguez, for successfully leading the negotiations with the ADB for the loan assistance,” Secretary Dar said.

“The $400-M loan is very timely, as the whole nation embarks on ensuring food security, through the Duterte administration’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program, geared on producing affordable and nutritious food, and enhancing food logistics and distribution systems.

The ADB assistance is technically called “Competitive and Inclusive Agriculture Development Program, Subprogram 1,” aimed at helping the Duterte government expand economic opportunities in the farm sector by implementing trade policy and regulatory reforms, enhancing public services and finance to the sector, and expanding social protection to rural families.

For his part, ADB vice-president Ahmed M. Saeed said the Philippines has made tremendous strides in reducing the rate of national poverty, but it remains high because of low farm productivity and limited crop diversification.

The loan will also support the government’s agenda to institute comprehensive policy and regulatory reforms, resolve institutional weaknesses in land and water management, expand agricultural financing to boost productivity, and extend social safety net to unserved and underserved rural families.

The ADB further said that “with a quarter of the country’s labor force engaged in agriculture, the sector lags behind its counterparts in other Southeast Asian countries in productivity, growth, and competitiveness.”

The Duterte government has identified agriculture as a priority area for reform under its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic economic recovery program, as it seeks to ensure food security and reduce poverty in the country, the ADB added.

The ADB program loan will also help enhance the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law and various measures it provides to strengthen the rice industry in line with the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap, and reforms in land and water resources, including irrigation investments.

Other reforms that the ADB loan will support include:

  • Additional assistance to farmers, making the transition towards higher value crops and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, like unconditional cash grants and the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers to provide zero-interest loans to more than 160,000 small farmers; and
  • Expansion of the government’s pre-school feeding programs to families to reduce malnutrition and stunting.

The new ADB loan will be complemented by upcoming investments to enhance flood risk management in major river basins, improve irrigation efficiency, and promote agro-enterprise development. ### (DA-AFID and StratComms)

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