The World Food Prize Foundation

U.S. Readies 2nd MCC Compact for PH Agri


Despite unsavory rhetoric by President Duterte against the United States, the country’s long-time ally instead turned the other cheek as it readies a grant that will help develop the Philippine agriculture, a key component of the government’s 10-Point Economic Agenda.

A statement to the media by the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. said that officials of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. (MCC) and Philippine government officials discussed the second compact program and its relevance to improving Philippine agriculture at a recent forum on World Food Prize in Iowa.

 MCC is an independent U.S. Government foreign aid agency. Earlier this year, the Philippine government completed the first 5-year compact, a $433-million MCC program focused on road rehabilitation, community development, and revenue administration reform.

The second compact, now under development, is proposed to focus on increasing the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.

Courtenay Engelke, Senior Director in MCC’s Finance, Investment and Trade group, facilitated the discussion among a panel of experts who discussed Philippine agriculture policy, programs being implemented, lessons learned, and plans and opportunities for investment in Philippine agriculture in and around the second compact.

The panel also included a discussion about transport, value chain, and supply chain developments designed to integrate smallholders into larger domestic, regional, and global markets.

Evan Freund, Director and Country Team Leader for the Philippines of the MCC, confirmed that the current thrusts of the Philippine government to focus on policies and programs projects that will spur rural development responds to the growth constraints identified by a team of experts developing the second MCC compact program for the Philippines.

He also emphasized the critical role that improvements in transport logistics could make in successfully linking farmers with growing markets in the 7,100-island nation.

Dan Gudahl, Chief of Party of the Philippines Cold Chain Project of Winrock International talked about their project in the CARAGA region, a promising and peaceful area with so much agribusiness potential.

Through its cold chain project for meats and seafood,  Gudahl related how critical post harvest infrastructure can add value to farmers’ perishable produce.

David Alt, US Government Donor Engagement Director at Catholic Relief Services, talked about its agro-enterprise and clustering development approach whereby clustering small farm holders and partnering them with strong private corporations like Jollibee Foods Corporation can provide a sustainable path to successful agro-based ventures.

Alt also emphasized lessons learned through their project in the Philippines that market-driven, rather than supply-driven, production has higher likelihood of success.

Lauren Ruth, Director of Programs, Land O Lakes, highlighted the role of cooperatives and farmers associations in being the nexus of inputs that can catapult farmers towards economic strength.

She related how their dairy projects in Mindanao in partnership with the Philippine Government has been implemented to address the high incidence of malnutrition in Mindanao. She also talked about the importance of sustainable practices from “Grass to Glass” including attention needed on the quality of feeds, food safety education and animal genetics in dairy development.

Josyline Javelosa, Agriculture Attaché at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., presented the current administration’s 10-point economic agenda and priorities in agriculture. She said that the panel of non-government representatives working on agro-projects in the Philippines, most of which are under the US Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress Program, provided valuable insights into how to further enhance agricultural competitiveness in the country, while lauding current initiatives to focus on agriculture-based rural development as a means to reduce poverty, generate lucrative livelihoods, and achieve lasting peace.

Philippine officials and MCC representatives said the forum was part of the outreach efforts to partners in the private and development sectors, including the Filipino diaspora in the United States, as MCC and the Philippine government develop a second compact.


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