CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The North Luzon cluster of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) was the last cluster visited and evaluated by the World Bank during the second implementation support mission that started on April 4.

The activity follows the support mission held last September, by which a satisfactory rating was given by the World Bank (WB).

Led by WB Task Team Leader Frauke Jungbluth, the team looked into the progress of approved enterprise and infrastructure sub-projects, as well as the status of Luzon A cluster’s portfolio and pipelined sub-projects.

Presenting the updates on implementation, Luzon A Cluster Project Director Dr. Andrew Villacorta reported that 19 out of the 22 provinces have already secured infrastructure sub-projects, with a budget totaling to P10.6-billion. Of this, 33 sub-projects were approved, amounting to P2.71-billion.

For PRDP's enterprise component, 20 provinces have submitted their proposals with a budget of P495 million, by which nine sub-projects amounting to P124 million were approved, as of March 31, 2016.

Philippine Rural Development Project National Deputy Project Director Arnel De Mesa expressed his satisfaction with the cluster’s emerging progress, declaring Luzon A as the cluster with the most improvements since the World Bank last conducted its support mission to PRDP.

Prior to the activity, a three-day pre-mission was held to check on the viability and preparedness of selected enterprises and their respective proponent groups in Central Luzon last March 28 to 30.

During the activity, representatives from the cooperatives were able to present their business plans by which questions were thrown regarding the process of preparations, role of women, further plans for expansion, among others. Likewise, the cooperative members were also given a chance to ask questions to the composite team.

"We are looking forward to the main impact of our intervention, how much benefit it will cause the farmers, and how they can sustain it,” said Task Team Leader Frauke Jungbluth. The WB team widely expressed their positive impressions to the presented enterprises, much to the delight of the farmers.

Among the sub-projects that were visited in Nueva Ecija are the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka Onion Farm Mechanization Service Facility in Talavera, Sikkap San Jose Ampalaya Enterprise and Sto. Domingo Onion Enterprise Project. The team then traveled to Moncada for the Provision of Custom Service and Establishment of Processing Center and Storage Facility for sweet potato in the province of Tarlac.

The PRDP is a six-year national project that aims to establish a modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fisheries sector.

The North Luzon cluster is composed of Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Cordillera Administrative Region.