RP-Japan KR2 and IFAD-KLM4:Day 1 Highlights

Key stakeholders in the rural development sector participated in the Policy and Investment Forum, consisting of 61 women and 49 men from government, NGOs, peoples’ organizations, academe, business and donors to discuss and share the best, innovative and good practices (BIG-Ps) addressing challenges in rural development.

Sana F.K. Jatta, Country Programme Manager of IFAD and the Honorable Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Virgilio De Los Reyes, gave the keynote messages. Mr. Jatta stressed that the forum should be used as a venue to make us enablers in rural development and that “shared resources and shared development” should lead towards empowering and capacitating the rural poor to fully participate in development.

Mr. Jatta further emphasized that sharing all the stories and experiences in rural development underscores the fact that it is an invaluable tool not only strengthening our development efforts, but it could be the key to our continued relevance and existence.

Sec. De Los Reyes began by asking what happens after the project implementers leave, as he noted that there is a gaping hole in the internal governance of community organizations. He stressed that the gap exists because the efforts of in organizational development do not conform to that of the private sector. Rural development agencies are external forces facilitating the internal development of community organizations. These organizations rarely end up well-equipped to survive current business systems. He said that even cooperatives are just barely equipped to survive despite the Cooperative Code.

He dwelt on several points as emphasis that includes: 1) we should ask what legal infrastructure needs to be in place to support rural development, 2) the rural development function of DAR in tandem with the rest of the “kutong lupa” or the rural development agencies, 3) the effects of trade policy which is fast gaining and is upon us, and 4) convergence of the Dept. of Agriculture, the Dept. of Agrarian Reform and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources for rural development.

Sec. De Los Reyes highlighted the impact of investment that materializes when interventions are directed towards well-defined target groups, the need to revisit and craft a legal infrastructure system that will allow farmers and their communities to engage in social enterprises sustainably and of having an agency that will be responsible on programs and projects directed towards rural development.

With the overall theme, “Shared Resources, Shared Development,” Day 1 discussions centered on the first 3 of the six major topics lined-up in this forum. These are i) Making Socially Relevant Projects Economically Viable, ii) Innovative Financing Supporting Value Chain, and iii) Investing in Rural Infrastructure.

Under the first theme: Making Socially-relevant projects Economically Viable, the experiences of DTI-RUMEPP on their Bayong program as shared by Mr. Jerry Clavesillas, of NEDA4 & UPLB Foundation on Market-Oriented Organic Vegetable as presented by Ms. Blesilda Calub, and BFAR’s Tala-isdaan Project as discussed by Dr. Westley R. Rosario have pointed out that these initiatives have high potential as socially and economically relevant enterprises these were able to mobilize participation of key stakeholders. Sustaining these initiatives requires strong policy support that will encourage its adoption/replication; sharpening of knowledge, competencies, and capabilities of project stakeholders especially those in the communities, and engaging in strategic partnerships for a more harmonized policy and institutional support.

The discussions under theme no. 2 on Innovative Financing Supporting Value Chain highlights the adoption of a pioneering scheme of extending credit in accordance with the value chain system. One Network Bank’s President Alex Buenaventura shared that they made use of marketing contract, risk management and freedom from debt as part of their approach in funding the cavendish banana production of farmer-participants in their program. Here, the technical assistance from DA and DAR has become relevant.

The 3rd theme, “Extensive and efficient infrastructure” highlights the importance of rural infrastructure as a driver of development in the countryside. Gov. Leonard G. Mayo-en has stressed that one main limitation is in raising the needed counterpart for infrastructures projects. He further requested that policies on this concern should be revisited, that national government to provide bigger funds so that their IRAs can be devoted to other important services for their communities such as basic services and health.

The sharing on Small Scale Irrigation System by Dr. Eulito Bautista FAO-Project Team Leader has highlighted the Farmer Fields Schools as a means in capacitating both the farmer in rainfed areas and the LGU extensionist on SSIS management in collaboration with integrated crop management.

After the case presentations, the interactive discussion ensued with Mr. Carlos Abad Santos moderating. In summary, key points underscored include the following:

· Loading LGUS with responsibilities will also call for setting up a mechanism that will prepare them to carry out the responsibility effectively

· That infra is an important public good but its implementation has to be coupled with education, capacity building among others;

· A policy on sustaining and scaling up of program interventions has to be crafted as a guide to all stakeholders;

· Requirements of community can be well-defined and target setting can be very clear, thus resources provided can be mobilized effectively

· That results-based management indicator has to be clearly defined so that accountabilities will likewise be pinpointed.

Appreciating the substance of the forum proceedings, Ms. Sheila Encabo, Director, OIC-Agriculture Staff of NEDA,

suggested that this should be forwarded to NEDA as one of the references as formulates the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP).

Virginia O. Verora, IFAD Consultant Ma. Elena C. Cabañas, OIC-Asst. Director, DAR-Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development (BARBD) and Sid Lagahit. Photos by Robert Domoguen, IFAD-CHARMP2