WB, gov't to spend $43M in Mindanao to boost farmers' income
Manila (5 February) -- Billions of pesos spent on various rural infrastructure projects in Mindanao are expected to boost farmers' income, generate a million jobs and soften the impact of the global recession in the Philippines.
"We're doing everything to make sure these funds are well-spent in this process of pump priming the country's economy through various rural infrastructure projects," said World Bank Task Team Leader Carolina Geron during a recent media forum here.
Geron is working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to set into motion one of the government's stimulus package, the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) whose rural infrastructure projects in the island will be funded with $ 43 million to come from the World Bank and local government units, split 50-50.
The MRDP is a five-year program launched in 2007 jointly funded by the national government, local government units and the World Bank.
It sets into motion various infrastructure projects in the countryside like farm-to-market roads, bridges, rural water supply and irrigation systems.
DA Undersecretary for Operations Jesus Emmanuel Paras said the government has expressed deep concern for Filipino farmers in the rural areas, specially the poorest areas amidst the global recession.
"We've got to help these poor farmers, they have nowhere to go in this global crisis except to the government--and we're here to help them," Paras said.
Spending billions of pesos on various farm projects in the rural areas will definitely help stimulate the economy of this southern island and cushion the full impact of the global crisis, he added.
So far, some P163 million had been released to 19 towns all over Mindanao after 75 of their various rural infrastructure projects were approved by DA and the World Bank in December last year, according to Paras.
Paras said the government has also funded various livelihood projects in Mindanao recently, releasing P67.5 million to local government units in the island's five regions.
These livelihood projects which are expected to soften the full brunt of the global recession this year, include small-time food processing, commercial vegetable growing, pig raising, cattle fattening, poultry and egg production, he said.
"We're hoping all these funds will be released by governors or town mayors directly to farmers and beneficiaries of these livelihood projects instead of being diverted elsewhere," Paras said. (PNA) [top]