AGRICULTURAL infrastructure and enterprises funded under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) are facing delays in implementation due to lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
“COVID-19 is really affecting our operations, especially in implementing our sub-projects that involve field work since there are quarantine measures implemented in different cities, provinces and municipalities,” PRDP Deputy Project Director for Mindanao Danilo T. Alesna said.
Construction projects not directly related to the health crisis are among the activities banned by most local governments.
Mr. Alesna said the PRDP, a World Bank-funded program with the Department of Agriculture as lead implementer, has also adopted a “skeletal workforce and alternate work arrangements among our employees” in compliance with “the government’s efforts to flatten the curve.”
He said they are looking at ways to get the projects back on track once restrictions are eased.
“We will do our best to cope with the challenges resulting from the delays after this pandemic,” he said.
There are 274 PRDP infrastructure projects in Mindanao with a total cost of P19.5 billion, mostly farm-to-market roads, and 118 enterprise development projects with a funding of P751.777 million.
Among the delayed projects are those in Davao de Oro, which was granted P968.88 million for 19 projects.
In a statement, PRDO said seven projects in the province worth P255.72 million, with six infrastructure and one enterprise on tablea processing, were completed before the COVID-19 crisis.
The pending projects include farm-to-market roads, rubber processing and marketing, cardava banana consolidation and marketing, cow’s milk processing and marketing, and an enhancement of virgin coconut oil and by-product processing and marketing.
For the completed projects, the PRDP statement quotes rice farmer Peter Jumigop of Compostela town on how the new road connecting their area to the capital Nabunturan has improved their market access.
In the past, he said, the road was just a “pathway for carabaos that carry our produce. The road was muddy and the depth would reach our knees.”
Fellow beneficiary Raul Bogani Sr. said nowadays, buyers are able to go directly to them and haul their products.
“The buyers’ vehicle can now reach our farms and collect our produce by the side of the road, unlike before where we used to pay P15 per sack (for hauling),” said Mr. Bogani.
The transport of agricultural produce are among the exemptions in travel restrictions imposed nationwide.
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