(Features) PRDP gives hope to Visayas farmers, fisherfolk affected by calamities

February 4, 2015 5:33 am 

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA, Feb. 3 (PNA) — Lilybeth Hautea, a housewife who lives in Barangay Tortosa in the coastal town of Manapla, Negros Occidental, could not forget how her family could only tremble helplessly in fear as Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) battered their village by the sea on November 8, 2013.

Fortunately, the super typhoon spared her whole family, but her husband lost what probably was their most valuable possession – his fishing boat.

“I am thankful that none of my family members was hurt, but we lost our sole means of livelihood,” Aling Lilibeth recounted.

In a village where many residents depend their livelihood from the blue swimming crabs raised in the shorelines of the village, the loss of a fishing boat indeed spells disaster.

The town of Tortosa is among the many towns in the Visayas that also lost lives and livelihood during Yolanda but were not highlighted in the news as most media outlets were focused in Leyte and Samar where the worst effects of the super typhoon were felt.

And as the Hauteas bagan picking up the pieces in the storm's aftermath, despair pervaded her village as they ponder a bleak future without their boats and other equipment.

But despair has now turned to hope.

The Tortosa Pumpboat Association (TPA), where Lilibeth’s husband is a member, is among one of the proponent groups in the Visayas that had been recently granted financing by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the agency’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).

The PRDP is a six-year national government platform for an inclusive, value-chain oriented and climate resilient agriculture and fisheries sector that was officially started in July, 2014.

Funded mostly by a Php 27.5-billion loan from the World Bank, it is the upscale version of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) where new innovations were introduced to address the present demand to make rural development more achievable especially in the face of climate change.

From the PRDP, the TPA is set to receive more than 60 percent of the P500,000 worth of association project for the rehabilitation of fishing equipment.

TPA has 129 members at present who rely on blue swimming crab harvesting, selling of mangrove plantlets, and food processing, among others.

TPA chairman Richard Aquino said that the fisherfolk’s association would be able to procure six fishing boats which will be rented to fisher-members whose boats were damaged during Typhoon Yolanda.

“Members who will utilize the fishing boats will pay a weekly rent, and after a year they can buy the facility on a depreciated cost. Money earned would be used to buy more fishing boats for the association,” he said.

Hautea said she could not contain joy when she heard that her husband will soon get a chance to use a brand new boat from their fisherfolk group.

“Aside from being brand-new, the boat will be bigger in size from the one we lost during the typhoon. This would give us a chance to harvest bigger quantities of blue swimming crabs,” she said.

The TPA is just one of the proponent groups in Visayas that will receive financing grant from DA-PRDP through its enterprise development or I-REAP component.

The Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) component of the PRDP aims to create marketable surplus of commodities and elevate agricultural production into the next levels of the value chain by installing production and market support facilities as well as establishing enterprises and up-scaling product at the appropriate commodity value-chain segment, among others.

For the whole Visayas, the DA-PRDP will fund at least P2.99 billion worth of infrastructure and marketing support projects, of which a major chunk is focused on the rehabilitation of agri-based livelihood and infrastructures damaged during typhoon Yolanda and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake which struck many parts of the region in 2013.

The said amount will be shared through a counter-parting scheme between the PRDP and the Local Government Units (LGUs), with the LGUs providing 10 percent equity for the infrastructure sub-projects they propose, and 20 percent for the enterprise sub-projects.

PRDP deputy director Arnel De Mesa explained that tools like Value Chain Analysis (VCA) and Expanded Vulnerability and Suitability Assessment (E-VSA) will indicate where the project should be put in place.

VCA is a tool used to assess the status of a particular industry, the linkages and interplay of the different players along the chain and identify upgrading strategies and interventions that could contribute to the development of the industry.

E-VSA, on the other hand, takes account of both agro-climatic data and socio-economic indicators (such as poverty magnitude, poverty incidence, number of farmers and fishers, size of production, area, etc.) as basis in targeting interventions and formulating strategies for investments in an area.

Both tools will help identify whether a project is viable or not in a particular province or municipality.

Moreover, the PRDP will utilize geo-tagging as virtual monitoring tool especially for projects in remote and hard to reach areas.

To ensure the efficient and speedy implementation of the sub-projects proposed under the PRDP, the National Project Coordination Office (NPCO) and WB were in Negros Occidental last week of January to review pilot projects proposed by the province.

The team aims to address concerns and problems encountered by the LGUs, as well as ensure that the projects are properly planned and implemented.

During the event, WB Task Team Leader for PRDP Carolina Figueroa-Geron urged TPA members to utilize the project properly so they can still have a chance to propose for more sub-projects in the future.

She also lauded the natural resource management activities of the group such as maintaining a mangrove area along the shoreline, which they use as alternate livelihood source.

TPA members sell each mangrove plantlet at P5 minimum, depending on the maturity of the plant.

Also during the meeting, TPA members testified that they do not harvest pregnant crabs, in spite the lure for higher price.

Aquino said that there is an ordinance in Manapla that bans fisherfolk to catch pregnant blue crabs.

“While we can earn much more in selling these crabs, we would rather put them back in the waters and let them propagate for more blue crabs in the future,” the TPA head said.

Meanwhile, aside from the I-REAP sub-projects, a major part of the PRDP funds also finance infrastructure development aptly called the Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD).

The whole Visayas region has proposed at least P2.1 billion worth of 35 farm-to-market roads under the component.

De Mesa also encouraged LGUs to undertake projects like irrigation that can support high value crops and potable water systems that can provide clean drinking water for rural communities.

For the I-REAP sub-projects, Visayas has already proposed 14 projects worth P86.5 million, a part of which is the Rehabilitation of Fishing Equipment for Blue Swimming Crab Enterprise for the TPA.

The DA and the WB also commended the provincial government of Negros Occidental for having established a Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) in July last year.

So far, all provinces in Visayas have established their own PPMIU office which is tasked to coordinate with the DA in undertaking and monitoring sub-projects under the PRDP.

In the meantime, a significant component of the PRDP is the natural resource management of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) sites identified in the country, of which three of the six sites are in Visayas including—Southeast Iloilo, Danajon Bank in Bohol, and Guian Coast in Eastern Samar.

Together with the P20.5 billion loan from the WB to support the PRDP, P287 million was extended as grant to support natural resource management activities in the above-mentioned areas.

Through the GEF grant, communities will be trained and capacitated to conserve, protect and revive marine protected areas, fish sanctuaries, and other biodiversity areas. (PNA)

LAM/CMR

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