Japan-funded agri, envi program 'highly satisfactory' - NEDA
Davao City (4 June) -- A program that supports innovative farming and environmental preservation techniques at the local level was lauded by Japanese officials as a showcase of their support for Philippine rural and sustainable development.
A Japanese delegation led by Minister of Economic Affairs Tomochika Uyama met with officials from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Department of Agriculture (DA) during the Consultative Committee meeting for the Japanese Grant Assistance for the Food Security for Underprivileged Farmers (GAUF) on May 19, 2010 at the NEDA Board Room.
Now on its 31st tranche, the GAUF is a Japanese grant facility designed to assist developing countries achieve food self-sufficiency and alleviate poverty. The grants are in the form of farm inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, machinery and other equipment. These are then publicly bid in the local market, and the proceeds are used to finance agriculture and environment projects.
The Grant Agreement for the 31st tranche of GAUF was signed on April 20, 2009, which consisted of 26,135 metric tons of fertilizers (ammonium sulphate) that were delivered to four provinces in Mindanao, two in Visayas and seven in Luzon.
About PhP161 million was collected from selling the said fertilizers, or double from Japan's procurement cost of PhP82.85 million.
During the consultative meeting, the DA's National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), which administers the public bidding of fertilizers, told the delegates that farmers were generally satisfied with the ammonium sulphate. Their palay have become more robust, with greener leaves, more elongated tillers and heavier grains.
The GAUF proceeds are used to fund two separate programs by NEDA and NAFC. Since 1979, around 155 agriculture and environment projects worth PhP7.146 billion were already supported by the GAUF.
GAUF's proceeds to NAFC are utilized for the purpose of promoting the country's agriculture and fishery sector, and pursuing rural development. Priority is given to projects and activities that are geared towards the upliftment of the lives of small farmers and fishers.
Among the on-going initiatives under the program include capability-building for freshwater fisheries in Bicol, relief and livelihood assistance for fisherfolk in Romblon, promotion of village-based dairy enterprises and rehabilitation of small-scale irrigation projects.
While NEDA's Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP) was formally launched only in 2006, Director Roderick M. Planta of the NEDA-Project Monitoring Staff told the Japanese delegates that "at worst, the PEP is considered as moderately satisfactory, and at best it is highly satisfactory."
According to Planta, the PEP, which is 20 percent of the total GAUF proceeds, was evaluated using five main criteria: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.
"As to relevance, the PEP is consistent with the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan, and aligned with the thrusts of the agribusiness and environment sector," Planta said. He also noted the program's efficient disbursement rate at 93 percent, and high effectiveness, with project beneficiaries reporting increased income and productivity, and reduced farm input costs.
Planta also pointed out that a project on the restoration of mangroves in Surigao City generated 124 new jobs, while a project in Region XI rehabilitated 15 hectares of environmentally critical areas. "Based on these benefits, PEP had a high program impact," he said.
"The likelihood of the projects achieving sustainability is evidenced by the support and ownership of the beneficiaries, and by the partnerships involving local governments, state universities and colleges (SUCs) and national government agencies, which provided counterpart contribution," he added.
NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan said that beyond food security, "the proceeds of GAUF is viewed as an instrument that would help the country foster innovative business and socioeconomic models that work at the local level."
Tungpalan added that while the 132 PEP-assisted projects are demand driven, NEDA was also responsible in proactively identifying them.
"The initial idea was to draw from the state universities and colleges a lot of their research and development work that don't get field-tested. Our mission was to support the development and field testing of projects.
At the same time, it was an opportunity for us to impart our knowledge on development models that work," Tungpalan explained.
"People seeing results on the ground bring with them deeper understanding of community development. We are hopeful that the PEP is a good case of a good story to tell not only in the Philippines but hopefully to the rest of the Asian region," said Tungpalan. (PIA) [top]