Cagayan de Oro - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) jointly launched Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE) at a ceremony in Pryce Plaza Hotel on Thursday, January 21.
Among those who attended the activity were Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Herman Ongkiko, DAR Central Office Project Management Service (DARCO-PMS) Director Maria Celerina Afable, DAR-X Regional Director Faisar Mambuay, DAR-IX Regional Director Felix Aguhob, DAR-Caraga Regional Director Julita Ragandang, IFAD Manager for Southeast Asia Benoit Thierry, and IFAD Country Program Director Yolando Arban.
In his opening message, DAR-X Regional Director Mambuay expressed his gratitude for the launching of the project and he gave thanks to IFAD for their support to agricultural productivity in achieving peace and development in the country.
Project ConVERGE is the 15th project of IFAD in the Philippines. Its goal is to contribute to the reduction of poverty incidence in 10 target provinces of Regions IX, X, and CARAGA through the promotion of sustainable livelihood activities based on key commodities, such as rice, rubber, coffee, cassava, and coco sugar that are deemed competitive in the areas. DARCO-PMS Director Afable presented the details of the project.
In his message, Thierry cited the importance of Project ConVERGE in the uplifting of farmers from poverty. He also said that the integration of the value chain is a key objective not only for the project, but also for the agricultural smallholders.
Thierry further said that the opening of the ASEAN Economic Community would be able to impact the small farmers by exporting their products within the region. He also emphasized the importance of organizing small farmers and encouraging them to join a bigger federation of farmers’ associations and cooperatives so that they can become competitive in the market.
DAR Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Herman Ongkiko said, “ Project ConVERGE is a very innovative project because it’s scaling up what we have done in small ARCs with few barangays to a larger ARC cluster.” He also expressed his gratitude to IFAD for providing financial assistance for the project.
The project runs from 2015 to 2020 with a total project cost of PHP 2,284.93 million (where PHP 1,087.50 million comes from loan proceeds and PHP 1,197.43 million from the National Government through DAR and local government units (LGUs) and will be funded by IFAD. The project will co-implemented by DAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with cooperation from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and LGUs, the Mindanao Development Authority, and the Department of Science and Technology.
The project is set to cover 10 provinces across Regions IX, X, and CARAGA and is composed of 91 ARCs in 11 ARC clusters. The project will benefit 300,512 smallholder farmers, composed of 38,724 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and 261,788 other smallholder farmers and rural workers. In Northern Mindanao, the project will cover Misamis Oriental, Camguin, and Bukidnon (which is divided into north and south).
The project is divided into four key components: the Participatory Value-Chain Analysis and Planning ( PHP 40.47 million), the Integrated Smallholder Agricultural and Rural Enterprise Development (I-SHARED) ( PHP 2,036.16 million), the Subdivision of Collective Certificate of Landownership Awards (CLOA) and Facilitation of Land Transfer Program, and the Project Management, Monitoring, and Evaluation and Knowledge Management ( PHP 2,284.93 million).
The project will be led by a Project Steering Committee to be headed by the DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes as Chairman. There will also be a Central Project Management Office (CPMO) to be based in Cagayan de Oro to oversee operations and implementation of the project. Under the CPMO will be the 3 Regional Multi-sectoral Steering Committees (RMSC) that will be based at the DAR Regional Office of each region. (Ressan Nash N. Alonto/ERS)