UN agency pledges USD 55-M in new poverty-reduction projects in PHL

By Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes

MANILA, Nov. 25 (PNA) — The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) of the United Nations has pledged USD 55 million for two projects aimed at alleviating poverty in Philippine rural areas starting in 2016.

Benoit Thierry, IFAD country program manager, announced this development during the 9th Knowledge and Learning Market and Policy Engagement (KLM-PE) held on Nov. 25 to 26, at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Quezon City.

“On behalf of President of IFAD, we are very proud of this renewed commitment in Philippines, and participate to government efforts for poverty alleviation in agriculture and fishery sector,” said Thierry.

The funding will support the Convergence of Value-Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (CONVERGE) project and Fisheries, Coastal Resources and Livelihood (FishCORAL) project.

For the CONVERGE project, IFAD will allot USD 25 million for the next six years starting in 2016.

The project, which aims to reduce poverty incidence in 10 of the country’s poorest provinces, will benefit over 300,000 agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries (ARBs) in 11 Agrarian Reform Communities in 10 provinces in Regions 9, 11, and CARAGA.

Thierry noted that the objective of CONVERGE will enable ARBs and other smallholder farmers to become highly productive and competitive entrepreneurs.

In partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform, CONVERGE shall provide financing for farm inputs, tools, packaging, and capacity building, thus increasing the quantity and improving the quality of commodity production.

Furthermore, the project will also link smallholder farmers with the market.

“By linking farmers to the market, CONVERGE shall effectively transform smallholder farmers into active contributors to the achievement of broad-based rural economic growth,” Thierry said.

As for the FishCORAL project, IFAD has committed USD 30 million for financing income-generating projects, rehabilitation of coastal resources such as coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses, and provision of support infrastructure such as guard houses and fish sanctuaries.

The FishCORAL project aims to protect the country’s vital coastal resources by providing livelihood and coastal resource management capabilities to over 700,000 inhabitants of 11 bays and gulfs in the Philippines.

In partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture, the project covers 14 provinces in Regions 5, 8, 13, and ARMM.

This year’s edition of the Knowledge and Learning Market and Policy Engagement focused on discussions and activities that highlight the importance of small farm holders in poverty reduction strategies. (PNA)