By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Correspondent

DAVAO CITY — The World Bank has committed to add another $280 million fund for the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar announced Saturday.

In a news conference here over the weekend, Mr. Dar said the fresh funding is expected to be downloaded next month to the program, which is being implemented with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as lead agency.

“We have talked with World Bank and they have agreed to add another $280 million,” he said.

The World Bank made an additional allocation after seeing that the PRDP has been proven as an effective “mechanism in uplifting the people in the rural areas,” he told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the conference.

Implemented starting 2014, the PRDP had an initial funding of P27 billion and an additional $450 million was approved in December 2018.

Based on the online PRDP monitoring data, there are 797 projects under the Intensified Build Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD), of which 455 are already approved and 342 in the pipeline.

I-BUILD projects have a total cost of P55.86 billion, including the World Bank loan proceeds, counterpart from the national government and the 10% equity from the local government unit (LGU) beneficiary.

On the other hand, the 675 I-REAP projects have a total cost of P2.58 billion.

Mr. Dar also announced that the DA is planning to institutionalize the value chain analysis used in the PRDP.

LGUs applying for PRDP funding are required to submit a value chain analysis relating to their project and a Provincial Commodity Investment Plan.

The DA chief acknowledged that these requirements have inhibited some LGUs from submitting proposals, but he said local officials need to step up their capacity while the DA works on simplifying procedures.

“What we will do is to simplify the process without sacrificing due diligence,” he said.

PRDP Mindanao Program Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., who confirmed the additional fund, also said that LGUs need to learn that such methods as having a value chain analysis for projects improves governance.

“In the long run, this will motivate them to craft programs that have strong foundations and have real goals and quantifiable targets,” Mr. Oñate told BusinessWorld.