DAVAO CITY — Micro and small enterprises involved in coffee, cacao, coconut, and processed fruits and nuts in the Davao Region will be among the first beneficiaries of the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) project.

The program, funded mainly by the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) and implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), will cover 17 provinces in Mindanao and three in Eastern Visayas.

DTI-Davao Assistant Regional Director Edwin O. Banquerigo said the “market-driven program” would boost the income of farmers by helping them develop value-added products and linking them with buyers.

Mr. Banquerigo, also RAPID Growth project director, said the target is to start implementation within the last quarter of the year.

“We are still in the initial stage of preparations,” he said.

The total budget for the 20 provinces is P4.78 billion, or about $91.6 million.

Some $62.9 million will come from IFAD in the form of loans and another $3 million as grant. The rest will be covered by the national government, local government units, and the project beneficiaries.

According to a RAPID Growth briefer, the products supported by the program “have strong domestic and international market potential.”

The targeted commodities also involve “large numbers of rural farmers with high final value adding potential” and “a good number of cooperatives and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in processing and trading segments, serving as anchor firms.”

More sectors may covered by the program later on based on “jobs, livelihoods, income generating potential and market considerations.”

The beneficiary provinces in the Eastern Visayas Region are Northern Samar, Leyte, and Southern Leyte. In Mindanao, the 17 provinces are: Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, and Davao del Norte in the Davao Region; Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur in Caraga; Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte in Northern Mindanao; Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani in the south-central portion of the island; and Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay in Zamboanga Peninsula. — Carmelito Q. Francisco