THE PHILIPPINES has received grants worth $1 million from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support technical cooperation projects focused on the agri-fisheries sector.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that the projects involve agrifood system transformation, protection for El Niño-affected areas, and aquaculture and seaweed production.

“We will make it a point to fast track the preparation process to ensure that our agricultural sector can benefit from this investment, especially the assistance intended for areas heavily damaged by El Niño, which is a key priority of our Secretary,” DA spokesman and Assistant Secretary Arnel V. de Mesa said.

The funding exceeded the $594,000-initial DA proposal when it met with FAO Philippines Representative Lionel Dabbadie.

In a separate release, the DA said it is set to finalize feasibility studies on infrastructure projects that will boost production of rice and corn.

Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. created three project preparation teams to draft the framework for the post-harvest program for rice and corn, solar-powered cold storage facilities, and proposed solar-powered irrigation systems.

Undersecretary Jerome V. Oliveros will chair the three teams, while Undersecretaries Roger V. Navarro and Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero and Mr. De Mesa will serve as co- and vice-chairs.

“The teams will have to ensure the project documents are compliant with the requirements of the DA-wide project clearing house system and the National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee,” Mr. Laurel said.

The DA estimates that the government needs to put up P93 billion to build post-harvest facilities for rice and corn and P1 billion to build cold storage facilities to reduce losses and extend the shelf life of the vegetables. — Justine Irish D. Tabile