$3M Aussie grant to boost Mindanao agri projects

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


MALAYBALAY CITY — To better serve rural communities with critical infrastructure projects, governance reforms must be strengthened at the local government units (LGUs) and project implementation level, said Lealyn Ramos, program director for Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).

“Instituting governance reforms is important in improving the delivery of agriculture projects and enables a stronger investment climate in the countryside,” she said.

She added it will also improve revenue and accountability mechanisms that will enable LGUs to prioritize delivery of agricultural projects and spur development in the countryside.

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Under the US$3-million grant by the Australian Agency for International development (AusAID), activities that will build local capacities in project implementation is seen to institute governance reforms in implementing agriculture projects under the MRDP.

Ramos said capacity building activities in the form of trainings and technical assistance (TA) have been conducted with the aim of enhancing the delivery of agriculture services and productivity through value chain.
At the project implementation level, the TA continues to strengthen the planning and management process for local subproject investments ensuring that projects adhere strictly to compliance measures and procurement processes.

Among the trainings conducted under the grant include financial management and procurement course for LGUs aimed at improving the bidding process of rural infrastructure projects. Focus was also given on management of environmental resource and in sustaining livelihood projects.

Training on Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES), which aims to ensure that people and the environment are not adversely affected by the MRDP projects, have been conducted for LGUs particularly the Program Planning, Monitoring and Implementing Units (PPMIUs), a mechanism introduced by the MRDP to improve project implementation capabilities at the local level.

The recent AusAID evaluation report on the grant reported that LGUs need to improve existing investment codes and policy guidelines in implementing projects.

There is also a need for more capacity building activities and support to LGUs to fully take advantage of public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, Ramos added.

To enhance agricultural services and productivity, trainings and mentoring on Value Chain Analysis (VCA) will be conducted for LGUs as well as on product development and value-adding schemes for agri-fishery products.

“Capability building activities are critical in ensuring that the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the LGUs effectively deliver services and fulfill the project requirements in a timely manner and competent quality thereby increasing the project’s sustainability,” Ramos said.

Institutional governance reform (IGR) is one of the components under the second phase of MRDP. The program implements rural infrastructure and agricultural productivity enhancement projects and natural resource management interventions.

It has also formed different Community-based Monitoring Evaluation Group (CBMEG) to bolster community involvement in the implementation of projects, strengthen community ownership, and increase project accountability. Through the 1,125 CBMEGs formed in various barangays in six regions covered by the Program, it is aimed that project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is mainstreamed at the community level.

In 2011, the Program launched geo-tagging as a transparency measure which allows the capturing of photographs of projects and uploading it and other relevant information to Google Earth to enhance the monitoring and supervision of projects.

It strengthened the information network of DA and LGUs through various trainings, which led in the documentation of success stories to highlight the change process in the project implementation that would help in replicating best practices in communities served by the project.

MRDP is a poverty-alleviation initiative implemented through the DA covering Mindanao provinces, which seeks to further improve rural incomes and achieve food security through agri-fishery infrastructure, livelihood enterprise, and biodiversity conservation projects. (PIA)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 01, 2014.

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