ADB, Japan support Philippines' drive for food security

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the Philippines' efforts to improve food security and cut rural poverty amid a sharp surge in global food prices.

The Japan Special Fund, through ADB, is providing a $1 million technical assistance grant to finance a full analysis of Philippines' agriculture and irrigation sectors. It will also draw up an investment project design for upgrading and extending irrigation services on existing irrigated land.

Unlike many previous projects, farmers and other beneficiaries will participate in the design, development, and management process of the Irrigation System Operation Efficiency Improvement Project.

The ADB-financed project will support the National Irrigation Administration's (NIA) rationalization plan that matches staff with the changing role of NIA following rehabilitation of facilities, and transfer of the management of irrigation systems to water users and irrigators associations.

"The impact of the proposed project will be increased farm household incomes and reduced rural poverty. The aim is for around 40,000 hectares of irrigated land to benefit from upgraded infrastructure and services by 2016," said Ian Makin, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist with ADB's Southeast Asia Department.

International grain prices, including rice, rose by 40% between March 2007 and March 2008, prompting the Philippine Government to announce a series of steps to boost production. The Philippines is a major global importer of rice, the country's staple food.

The country plans to rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure and postharvest facilities for rice, as many irrigation systems have deteriorated due to years of poor maintenance, damage from natural disasters, limited farmers' participation, and shortage of water.

The Philippine Government is contributing the equivalent of $250,000 in the form of staff, office space and other support services.

The ADB project will complement World Bank-funded investments in the sector.


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