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ATOK, Benguet – Farmers and residents along the stretch of Jose Mencio Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) are now assured of safe travel and transport of their agricultural produce with the completion of the road improvement that was turned over today, October 29, 2020.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar led the inauguration and turnover ceremony of the FMR subproject.
“To the barangays where this road traverses, you now have an opportunity to improve your livelihoods because you can now go to the center town (Baguio City) and even to La Trinidad, to bring your produce and have a good price for your produce,” said DA Secretary Dar.
The 11.91-kilometer FMR covers three barangays in Atok – Caliking, Topdac and Poblacion. It is the first completed road project implemented under the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) in Benguet. It has a project cost of P202.34 million shared by the World Bank, the national government through the DA, and the provincial local government of Benguet.
Sec. Dar further said that the DA will continue to invest in the construction of FMRs for greater production and accessibility of food products to the market as he stated the allocated budget for the province of Benguet on establishing food processing and marketing facilities for highland vegetables.
“All various DA projects and programs invested in Benguet including our joint program with the Benguet State University (BSU) is now running P800 million,” he added.
These include investments under the DA regular programs, PRDP, and DA’s attached bureaus.
Caliking Punong Barangay Danny M. Sucdad recalled how it was hard for farmers within the area to sell first class vegetables because of the poor road condition.
“With the improvement of this road, we can now experience high incomes because of the good quality of agricultural products coming from the different barangays traversed by the road project,” he said.
Kap. Sucdad further stressed the impact of the road improvement especially during emergency cases. He also thanked the lot owners who donated their lots for the improvement of the FMR.
Meanwhile, Benguet Governor Melchor D. Diclas expressed his gratitude to the DA as well as to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for funding and approving the counterpart (funding) for the Jose Mencio FMR subproject. He also thanked the implementing units from the provincial office down to the barangay LGUs and the Jomarcann General Construction for facilitating the implementation of the subproject until its completion.
“The province of Benguet will be responsible for the Operations and Maintenance of the road,” committed Gov. Diclas as he urged the primary users of the road to take good care of it.
Aside from reducing travel time and increasing traffic count, the road improvement further intends to reduce input and output hauling cost by 33 percent; reduce postharvest losses of agricultural products by 10 percent; and expand coffee production area by 20 hectares annually.
Under the DA-PRDP, the province of Benguet has now completed nine infrastructure subprojects and 10 enterprise subprojects located in the different municipalities of the province. These subprojects are interventions in support to the production, postharvest, and marketing of agricultural products in Benguet. Overall, the DA-PRDP has invested an aggregate cost of P518.93 million worth of completed and ongoing infrastructure and enterprise subprojects in support to the champion commodities of Benguet province. By ELVY S. TAQUIO