May 26, 2014 9:52 pm

The Department of Agriculture is considering launching regional agro-enterprises using the platform of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), noting that rural enterprises are potent creators of sustainable job and income opportunities in the countryside.

PRDP is a six-year program expected to pool $671.59 million, or about P28 billion, partly from a loan portfolio of the World Bank.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the PRDP approach covers the entire value chain of food supply, from production to marketing, even consumption.

“To move farmers from subsistence agriculture to surplus production and be climate change-resilient, the PRDP will focus on the establishment of roads and other critical infrastructure,” Alcala said.

The DA Secretary said that participating communities will also be assisted in identifying and growing their priority crops based on a value chain analysis and the provincial commodity investment plan.

“Then they will be trained how to [add value to] their products and link them directly to prospective buyers,” Alcala said.

“In the context of the upcoming Asean economic integration and promoting inclusive socio-economic progress, the discussion on enhanced value chain in agriculture is both timely and necessary,” he added.

“The DA hopes to start rolling out the initial projects within the next three to five months,” he said.

Even prior to its formal execution, the PRDP has already helped a number of rural enterprises across the country. One of them is a group of calamansi farmers in Oriental Mindoro for whom PRDP helped secure a marketing contract with a leading beverage company with the help of the Philippine Calamansi Association Inc.

The PRDP has also partnered with Kennemer Foods International to set up cocoa demonstration farms and nurseries, as well as plantations, in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Palawan, Southern Leyte, and Bohol.

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