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Korea grant to fund study on multi-industry clusters in RP

May 8, 2010

April 30, 2010, 2:59pm

The Korean government has approved a one-million dollar grant to the Philippines to study the feasibility of establishing clusters linking farming sites to potential industries.

Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the grant from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which is roughly equivalent to P44 million, will fund a one-year study commencing from April this year to March 2011, to assess and select a pilot site in candidate provinces.

These provinces include Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Bohol, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Puyat said that the grant stems from the signing on May 30 last year of a Memorandum of Understanding for a Feasibility Study on the Establishment of Multi-Industry Clusters (MICs) in the Philippines between Manila and Seoul which was witnessed by former Secretary Arthur C. Yap.

Puyat said the DA, KOICA and their partner agencies expect that the MIC model that will be developed in the Philippines will lead to increased farm production, along with the emergence of manufacturing sectors, increased employment, and a robust financial system in the countryside. “It is worthwhile to note that in South Korea, the MIC led to productive synergism between agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing and knowledge-based industries. The same effect could be achieved if we adopt it in the Philippines,” Puyat said.

She said that based on the study, a pilot site will be selected among the candidate provinces. An MIC master plan, which links agriculture with potential industries, will subsequently be developed in the selected pilot province.

“Capacity building, including international workshops will likewise be undertaken as part of the activities of the feasibility study,” Puyat said.

To officially begin the implementation of the study, agriculture officials from the Philippines and representatives from KOICA held a kick-off meeting at the DA Central Office last April 20 which was also attended by Puyat, Director Zenaida Villegas of the DA’s Project Development Service, representatives from the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation, National Economic and Development Authority, Board of Investments, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, and Finance from the Philippines.

On the other hand, the Korean government was represented by Choi Soomi, second secretary of the Korean Embassy; Jinoh Kim, the KOICA resident representative; and officials of the Saman Corp. and Korea Planners Association which will conduct the study in tandem with the DA and other Philippine government agencies.

Puyat said representatives from the University of the Philippines Diliman were also invited to the meeting as local consultants of the Korean Project Team.

Earlier, Manila and Seoul also formally sealed a commitment to implement a Korea-funded project involving the construction of four rice processing centers (RPC) that aim to reduce postharvest losses and raise the incomes of over 5,000 rice farmers in Pangasinan, Iloilo, Bohol and Davao del Sur.

The Philippine government has allotted P136 million in counterpart funds to kick-off the RPC project. Puyat said that P104 million of this P136 million fund will come from the DA, while P32 million will be sourced from the local government units involved in the construction of the rice processing complex projects.

KOICA has provided a P649 million grant for the construction of the modern RPCs in Pangasinan, Iloilo, Bohol and Davao del Sur which will help create jobs in these provinces and increase incomes for the 5,160 farmer-beneficiaries by reducing their postproduction losses, enhancing the quality of their milled rice, improving distribution systems and maximizing rice byproducts. Puyat said the RPCs will benefit 40 of the country’s palay-growing provinces. The RPCs, which cover 9, 292 hectares, is expected to create 2,737 jobs during the construction phase of the project and another 4,627 jobs for the next 15 years once these centers are operational, according to estimates done by the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE).

Over 222,000 farm laborers, BPRE said, are also expected to benefit from the project.

The RPCs which will be constructed simultaneously over the next two years, will be built in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Pototan, Iloilo; Pilar, Bohol; and Matanao, Davao del Sur. Puyat said the construction of these four RPCs follows the successful implementation of the first RPC in Baler, Aurora in 2007, which was built through a US$3.2 million grant from KOICA.

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