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Farmers meet on int’I fund program review

DAVAO CITY: Farmers from government and non-government sectors congregated here for a four-day country program review of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to address issues on hunger, poverty and rural development in the country.

With the theme “Strengthening IFAD-Philippines country program delivery systems in support of competitive, inclusive and resilient agrifood value chains,” the four-day program began on February 3 until February 6.

IFAD Country Director Alessandro Marini said the program review aims to assess and evaluate IFAD’s strategic plans it has implemented in the Philippines in the last two years.

“This program review will tell us which areas of our program we should focus and improve on to better help small-holder farmers and the rural folk of the Philippines,” Marini said.

The Country Strategic Opportunities Program (COSOP) for 2017-2022 provides the government with suggestions to rural poverty reduction which influence national policies and generate substantial and measurable benefits.

“We still have 3 more years to implement COSOP and we intend to give it our best to invest in farmers, empowering them to increase their food security, improve nutrition of their families and increase their household incomes,” Marini said.

IFAD Country Program Officer Jerry Pacturan said that through the COSOP, IFAD-Philippines it has developed a cost-effective, people-centered and partnership-oriented approach that delivers results.

“Small-scale agriculture is central to our development which converts farmers and poor rural men and women to markets and services so they can grow more and earn more,” Pacturan said.

At the program review, the participants will assess the country program’s performance in 2019, identifying operational challenges and solutions. The participants will also recommend concrete actions to improve performance, especially in the areas of priority interventions, effective management tools, and knowledge management.

Undersecretary Bernie Cruz of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said that the Convergence on Value-Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (ConVERGE), a project funded by IFAD, is making progress in the Philippines.

“Project ConVERGE aims to reduce poverty by promoting sustainable livelihoods for farmers of abaca, rice, coco coir and coffee. So far, more than 100,000 households are now benefitting from the farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities and potable water systems the project has implemented in Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga region,” Cruz said.

Project ConVERGE is being implemented by the DAR. The project aims to enable agrarian reform beneficiaries, agrarian cooperatives and agrarian reform communities to become highly productive and competitive producers and entrepreneurs.

“We aim to succeed in empowering farmers with knowledge, infrastructure, and other support services to uplift their living condition,” Cruz added.

The four-day country program review began February 3 and will run until February 6 in Davao City.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicate rural poverty in developing countries. (PR)

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