ADB OKs $500-M loan for PH's agri sector

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $500-million loan to prop up the Philippine agriculture sector that has been struggling due to economic challenges.

In a statement on Friday, the ADB said the fresh policy-based loan intends to expand economic opportunities in the industry and help the Philippines secure its goal of meeting near- to long-term food security.

It would particularly bolster the government's Subprogram 2 of the Competitive and Inclusive Agriculture Development Program, which is envisioned to develop the agriculture sector with trade policy and regulatory framework reforms.

Boosting the rice industry under the program, the loan would also pump up the government's planning and management of land use and water resources.

It also supports the country's rice buffer stock management to ensure food security, even during emergency situations.

The program also has a measure safeguarding rural families affected by the reforms.

"Extreme climate events and economic shocks are exacerbating the struggles of the agriculture sector to raise their productivity," said ADB Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist for Southeast Asia Takeshi Ueda.

"This new loan aims to support the Philippines' efforts to attain food security by building a competitive and inclusive agriculture sector that is characterized by improved efficiency, enhanced diversity, strengthened climate resilience, and higher farm incomes," Ueda added.

The fresh funds would also support financial initiatives, such as unconditional cash transfers to smallholder rice farmers and concessional loans to agriculture- and fishery-based micro and small enterprises and smallholder farmers and fisherfolk.