Thursday, July 08, 2010

PBSP expands Bohol poverty reduction program

PBSP expands Bohol poverty reduction program
Manila Bulletin
July 8, 2010

TAGBILARAN, Bohol — The Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) is expanding its poverty reduction program to benefit agricultural communities, particularly in assisting some 10,000 families gain self-sufficiency in rice in Central Bohol.

PBSP, which is the largest social development foundation in the Philippines and the first of its kind in Asia, is comprised of over 260 large, medium-scale and small companies allocating a portion of their income for social progress projects around the country.

Combined corporate financial contributions are used by the PBSP to fund selected integrated programs in education, health, sustainable livelihood, environment and enterprise development
In Bohol, the foundation works with the local government and various communities. Its expanded poverty reduction program in the province will reach nine rice-producing municipalities and 103 barangays.

Over 92,000 families or some 38.8% of total population in Bohol live in poverty and PBSP intends to help 11% of this targeted group to rise above poverty.

PBSP’s partnership with the people of Bohol has shown encouraging results and the country’s principal foundation committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) intends to continue supporting the Bohol provincial government’s rice self-sufficiency agenda for at least another half decade more.

Exequil Bahalla, 52, a farmer living in Barangay Katipunan, Carmen is one of 760 farmers who has benefited from the 40 Small Water Impounding Systems (SWIS) project built by PBSP and partners. The SWIS has helped Bahalla and his fellow farmers in doubling their cropping and shield them from the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

“With the small irrigation system, we can plant rice in advance and increase rice yields. This allows our crops to flower in the first week of February and harvest rice sooner. We can then plant more crops (throughout the year),” Bahalla said in the local dialect.

The PBSP has also introduced organic farming using vermicompost and other appropriate farming technologies for increased farm productivity.

According to Jose Antonio Aboitiz, a representative of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Co., and Chairman of PBSP’s Visayas Regional Committee, the foundation has “built up the capacities of 33 community-based organizations with a combined membership of 5,442 farmers.”

He said Aboitiz added that after five years of support to subsistence farmers, “60 percent of total household beneficiaries realized income above the poverty threshold of Php 10,435 while 40 percent realized varying levels of income increases.”

Said PBSB expanded program in Bohol will improve farming technology, livelihood, and enterprise productivity of beneficiary-partners in the province. At the same time, public school education will be improved, health needs met, and environment and climate change issues addressed.

To help reduce poverty in more than 100 communities in the province in the next five years, PBSP aims to raise at least P20 million each year. PBSP members have already committed Php1 million this year. The foundation’s German development partners have also signified support by about Php16 million for the implementation of its Bohol Food Sufficiency Project in the towns of Carmen, Dagohoy and San Miguel.

“We are confident that businesses will continue to expand their social responsibility beyond their core operations and beyond their immediate communities. Such businesses have already made  commitments to reach out and support poverty reduction in Bohol,” Aboitiz underlined.

In totality, PBSP, since its establishment in 1970, has benefited 4.7 million Filipinos and assisted over 6,400 social development projects through a total of P7.5 billion in grants and development loans.