South Korea extends $22-million agriculture grant to PH

by Cai U. Ordinario, BusinessMirror

agriculture grant
agriculture grant

MANILA – South Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica), has provided $22 million to the Philippines to fund a project that will build agriculture irrigation facilities, earth-filled dam, and access roads in the province of Isabela.

Koica said in a statement that the project, dubbed as “Adapting to Climate Change Impacts through the Construction of Water Impounding Facilities in the Philippines,” will receive the largest grant assistance extended by South Korea to the Philippines.

“This project is an indication of [South] Korea’s strong commitment in helping the Philippines achieve its goals, not just in terms of climate change, but also in agricultural development and economic growth. This is because the project will mitigate climate change by managing water resources, and will, likewise, help farmer-beneficiaries improve their agricultural productivity through the effective usage of water impounding facilities,” South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee said.

The project aims to reduce the adverse impact of climate change and enhance water management through the construction of an earth-filled dam, irrigation facilities, multipurpose access roads; and reforestation of watershed area along the Pasa river in Isabela province.

Once completed in 2015, the project will irrigate 980 hectares of farm lands, provide forest cover to 465 hectares of agricultural lands, and provide road access for transporting farm produce.

The project will be jointly implemented by Koica, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the provincial government of Isabela.

Prior to this, Koica has provided the Philippines a $3-million grant for the livestock sector in 2010 and P649 million for the construction of four rice-processing complex in Santa Barbara Pangasinan; Pototan, Iloilo; Pilar, Bohol; and Matanao, Davao del Sur in 2009.

The South Korean government has also made a pronouncement in 2011 that it was willing to extend $500 million in overseas development assistance (ODA) loans to fund projects under the Philippine Development Plan and those under the public-private Partnership (PPP) scheme for the next three years.

Despite billions in resources poured by the Aquino administration on irrigation, non-governmental organizational Rice Watch Action Network (R1) said the Philippines is still far from meeting its irrigation targets by 2014.

R1, which has a budget partnership with the NIA, said the government was only able to irrigate, restore and rehabilitate 751,973 hectares of land since 2010.

For the 2010-to-2014 period, the group said the national government had targeted to cover 1.41 million hectares of new, restored and rehabilitated irrigation systems to boost the country’s rice production and attain rice self-sufficiency status.

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