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PIA Press Release

WB urges MRDP to showcase decentralization of agri services

by Noel T. Provido

Davao City (1 October) -- Aside from improving rural incomes, the Mindanao anti poverty program is also urged to focus on decentralization of agricultural services.

World Bank (WB) senior operations officer, Carolina Figueroa-Geron told stakeholders of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) to give equal importance on the decentralization process to fully meet its development objectives.

MRDP is a long-term poverty alleviation initiative of the government implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through a loan portfolio from the WB.

"There are only two indicators that MRDP's success will be judged upon. These are on how well we have improved rural incomes and how well we have institutionalized the decentralization of the delivery of agricultural services," Geron said.

Based on Local Government Code of 1991, decentralization is defined as the transfer of responsibility for planning, management and resources generation and allocation from the central government and its agencies to the lower levels of government.

Development experts deemed decentralization necessary to facilitate faster delivery of needed basic services and promote participatory governance. It will also help in the development of the nation by bringing the government closer to the people through administrative de-concentration and political devolution.

"The delivery of agricultural services as per Local Government Code is already a devolved function. Further, the country's Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) also supports devolution of agricultural services to the local government units," Geron said adding: "The DA for its part could function as providers of state-of-the-art technologies rather than doing the delivery of basic services."

She said this is the kind of setup being observed in other countries like China and Brazil who had been successful in developing their agricultural landscape as service provisions are accessible at the local level.

"For true decentralization to get off the ground it should start right at the planning process where inputs from the communities are there identifying their needs as well as the necessary investments," she said.

MRDP is one of the WB-funded projects where community demand-driven (CDD) approach is being observed. CDD complements decentralization as it emphasizes in giving communities and local officials the power, information, and skills to determine the best use of development resources.

Geron said MRDP could be a model in instituting decentralized system for agriculture and fisheries service delivery that promotes participation, transparency, and accountability.

Based on the WB's observations during its recent supervision mission, Geron said MRDP is still well positioned to achieve its development objectives.

"The major challenge now is for the DA to scale up the program fast enough as per its original intended scope to catch up with its original targets within its original time frame," Geron said. (DA-MRDP) [top]

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