The Department of Agriculture led by Secretary William Dar and OIC Regional Director Cameron Odsey with Benguet officials led by Governor Melchor Diclas, Atok Mayor Raymundo Sarac and project contactor Joselito Tan of the JOMARCANN General Construction and Northern Builders Joint Venture, led the turn over and inauguration of the Jose Mencio Farm-to-Market Road Improvement Project in Caliking, Atok on Thursday.
The FMR is an 11.91 kilometer road project with a total cost of P202.34 million funded under the Philippine Rural Development Project. The road improvement project was completed in August this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FMR is expected to benefit 11,825 individuals from 2,561 households in the barangays of Caliking, Topdac, Poblacion, Abiang, Naguey, and Pasdong in Atok.
The FMR will also support the efficient transportation of commodities coming from the barangays like coffee, heirloom rice, chayote, cabbage, carrots, white potato, and taro. It is also expected to contribute significantly in the reduction on post-harvest losses to the agricultural products and in the input and output hauling costs.
“It will significantly reduce postharvest losses by 10%, decrease travel time by 58%, and increase traffic count by 30%,” Dar said. The newly improved FMR is a very important investment with almost 60% improvement to the movement of products from the production area to the markets, and with many households as beneficiaries, he added.
The DA, he said, is keen on implementing more FMR projects in the province to support the Benguet farmers who are supplying 80 to 85% of the vegetable requirements of the whole country.
“The work must be done para ang ating probinsya ng Benguet ay mas aangat pa at mas maraming makinabang kung iyong mga liblib na mga pook ay mayroong farm to market roads, “the Secretary stressed.
Local officials and residents expressed their gratitude to the DA and the different stakeholders who took part in realizing the long dream of the people in the area.
Atok Councilor and Liga ng mga Barangay President Danny Sucdad thanked the different stakeholders for realizing the dream of the people in their area for a better road that is now expected to boost the economy and the lives of the people there.
Mayor Sarac also thanked the lot owners affected by the road improvement projects who did not ask for payments for the road right of way as the residents themselves offered to help in the improvement of the road by using portions of their lots.
Meanwhile, Diclas appealed to the people of Atok to help in the protection and in making sure that the newly improved road will be used properly. He said the provincial government of Benguet will fund the operation and maintenance of the road.
Benguet Legislative Caretaker Cong. Eric Yap represented by Social Service Head Charen Tacio said that the project improvement of the FMR is deemed to improve farm efficiency, mobility of farm products, and commercial goods, and enhance the quality of life of farmer in this place including the expected to boost production and expand coffee plantation.(JDP/RMC –PIA CAR)
By Redjie Melvic Cawis