VIRAC, CATANDUANES – To formalize the interagency convergence in support to the implementation of the Provincial Commodity Investment Plans (PCIP) aimed at making Catanduanes the country’s abaca and mangrove crab capital, an interagency convergence Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing initiated by the Philippine Rural Development Project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) was conducted on May 23, 2017 here.


Coinciding with the province’s Abaca Festival celebration, the MOU was signed by the provincial local government unit, heads and representatives of national agencies, government financing institutions and the academe. Present during the activity were Governor Joseph Cua, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) Executive Director Kennedy Costales and PhilFIDA Bicol Regional Director Mary Anne R. Molina, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation Bicol Regional Chairman Corazon Realubit, Landbank Virac Branch Manager Lorna Rojas, Department of Science and Technology Bicol Regional Executive Director Tomas Briñas, Catanduanes State University President Dr. Minerva I. Morales and Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council Bicol Chairperson Alfredo R. Rillo.

PRDP South Luzon I-PLAN component head Rey Lara, PRDP Bicol local and national level planning (I-PLAN) component head Aloha Gigi Bañaria as well as abaca and mangrove crab stakeholders also attended the activity. Other agencies represented during the MOU signing were the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“This is a model for good governance,” Lara underscores. “Convergence is the theme of the national government. National agencies will have to converge at one direction in providing support services to vulnerable communities and societies… This will harmonize and mainstream the development efforts of the national government agencies and government financing institutions and the academe and the Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs) to help support the implementation of the abaca and mangrove crab provincial investment plan of Catanduanes,” Lara added.

Lara elaborated that the interagency convergence will increase or broaden more catalytic investments that will support the development of abaca and mangrove crab of the province through the provision of relevant infrastructure projects, facilities, technology, information and support services that will raise the income of abaca farmers and mangrove crab fisherfolk. He furthered that the activity will help establish good synergy with institutions in expanding opportunities for the abaca and mangrove crab in the province and contribute to the overall focus of the government’s thrust to address the gap of agricultural and fishery value chain through inclusive growth of the sector.

“I hope that through this Memorandum of Understanding, we’ll be able to develop more projects for the improvement of abaca and mangrove crabs in Catanduanes. Also, that this will be a way for us to improve our projects and plans for the preservation and the development of abaca and mangrove crabs which are important treasures of this province,” Cua said. 
According to Bañaria, in terms of institutionalization of PCIPs as a strategic plan for Convergence, the PRDP-Bicol I-PLAN was able to generate an initial funding commitment worth approximately P99.21 million for 2016-2018 from the PCIP of Catanduanes for abaca.

She announced that as of May 5, 2017, Catanduanes has P296.58 million-worth of infrastructure development (I-BUILD) and enterprise development (I-REAP) subprojects under PRDP. These consist of a total of P264.60 million worth of investments for I-BUILD subprojects which include around P6 million for the warehouse building in Virac, Catanduanes; P180.92 million proposed farm-to-market (FMR) subprojects in Virac and Caramoran and P77.68 million for other RPAB-approved infrastructure subprojects in Virac, Bato and Panganiban. In addition, the province has a total of P31.98 million worth of I-REAP subprojects. About P22.52 million of that amount will go to the enterprise development subprojects for abaca, rice and broiler in Virac, Gigmoto and Pandan, respectively. Meanwhile P9.46 million is for the Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB)-approved subproject for Mangrove Crab Production and Marketing Enterprise in Panganiban.

Bañaria also underscored that PRDP envisions its enhanced planning processes to be mainstreamed into the planning and budgeting system of the Department of Agriculture (DA), its banner programs and attached agencies as well as its partner agencies even after the Project’s completion.

Meanwhile, Rillo urged the abaca and mangrove crab industry players to organize an Abaca and Mangrove Crab Commodity Board which will consolidate the issues and concerns besetting the industries for endorsement to the RAFC. This will allow the concerned agencies to listen to the voice of the abaca farmers and mangrove fisherfolk as well as provide the necessary interventions to boost their commodities.

The PCIP is a three-year rolling consensus plan between the DA and LGUs based on the value chain analysis of provincial priority commodities conducted with various stakeholders’ participation. 
PRDP is a six-year development project funded by a P20.50 billion worth of loan from the World Bank with counterparts from the national and local government and a grant from the Global Environment Facility amounting to P287 million. The Project is designed to support smallholder farmers and fisherfolk to boost their marketable surpluses and improve their access to markets by investing in an inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)