THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allotted P3.5 million to support capacity training initiatives that will benefit seven rural cooperatives in Negros Occidental and Isabela.

The USAID provided the funding to a subsidiary of renewable energy (RE) provider Citicore Power, Inc. and Netherlands-based firm Agriterra for the “Generating Rural Opportunities by Working with Cooperatives (GROW Coop) initiative.”

“Through a grant from the USAID… the parties (Citicore Candlewick Bioenergy, Inc. or CCBI, and Agriterra) shall implement a 15-month community development program aimed at generating income sources and enhancing the quality of life for communities within or near CCBI plantations,” Citicore Power said in a statement on Wednesday.

CCBI is a forest management company that produces sustainable biomass fuel chips, while Agriterra is an organization that specializes in providing training and advice to cooperatives.

On Wednesday, Citicore Power separately told BusinessWorld that the USAID allocated the P3.5 billion for capacity building and training initiatives for seven growth-oriented agriculture cooperatives (GOACs).

The GOACs include the Buenavista Upland Agricultural Cooperative, Carabalan Upland Agricultural Cooperative, Mahalang Upland Agricultural Cooperative and Alolong Upland Agricultural Cooperative, and Binadlan Bi-ao Agricultural Cooperative, which are all located in Negros Occidental; the Kauswagan Sang Pangabuhi Agriculture Cooperative and Riverside Upland Agricultural Cooperative in Isabela.

The cooperatives have been benefitting from Citicore-Agriterra-USAID project since March.

“We are very grateful for this partnership with USAID and Agriterra to help uplift the lives of communities where our projects are located. We believe that giving these cooperatives the necessary training and tools will help them perform better, earn more, and ensure their long-term sustainability,” Citicore Power President, Oliver Y. Tan said.

“CCBI is committed to promoting inclusive growth and creating opportunities for its local communities. The company supports programs that create sustained shared value for its project sites and its host communities,” he added.

Last month, Citicore Power announced its plan to reinvest the proceeds from its energy-focused real estate investment trust (REIT) offer in 15 pipeline solar projects in Luzon.

The company targets to hold the country’s first “energy REIT” in September or October, and hopes to raise up to P10 billion in proceeds.

This year, the RE firm has allotted P4 billion in capital expenditures for solar and hydro projects. — Angelica Y. Yang