Friday, July 03, 2009

Rural road renews farmers’ faith food production in Sarangani town

A highland farmer in the village of Tuyan in Sarangani’s Malapatan town rides a motorcycle to deliver his produce at the market. Through farm-to-market road established by the Department of Agriculture - Mindanao Rural Development Program and the local governments of Sarangani Province and Malapatan, this farmer is expected to benefit from lower transport cost and minimal post-harvest losses. (Photo by Noel Provido)

SARANGANI, Philippine - One option to address food security is to maximize upland areas for food production. The upland farmers in the village of Tuyan in Sarangani’s Malapatan town had long seen the huge potentials of their farms to help in securing enough food in their town. However, they need better infrastructure for them to be productive.

“Although we have fertile lands, farmers in our barangay (village) cannot go full blast in food production because they cannot easily bring their produce to the market,” said Wahid Musa, the barangay’s chief official.

Allan Malagante, one of the farmers in locality affirmed their difficulty in transporting their produce to the markets.

“Following a very small trail, we carry our produce either by riding horses or simply on foot which usually takes several hours before we can reach the market. That is why the quality of our produce usually deteriorates resulting to cheaper price from the traders,” Malagante said.

“When I assumed as the barangay captain of Tuyan, I prioritized the establishment of farm-to-market road (FMR) which has been the clamor of my constituents for a long time. Since it would not be possible for our barangay budget to fund, we sought the help of our town officials and we are glad that they responded to our need,” Musa said.

Mayor Aida Singcoy, for her part, said the local government had seen the need to open up road network in the said barangay not only in boosting food production but also in fast tracking the delivery of basic services in the area.

Through the FMR project under the Department of Agriculture - Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP), as well as the Provincial Government of Sarangani, a road network was opened early this year and about to be completed within this month.

“Like other developing towns, there a lot of infrastructures that must be put in placed here in Malapatan. We are glad that through DA-MRDP we were able to save a least 50 percent of the construction cost which can be used in extending other needed services to my constituents,” Singcoy said.

Singcoy added that the provincial government through Governor Miguel Dominguez has also provided a bulk amount of their local counterpart.

MRDP program director Roger Chio said the investments on the construction of rural infrastructure form part of the government’s agenda to boost food productivity and make farming more profitable for small stakeholders.

“In implementing food security projects, DA-MRDP is mere facilitators as our local leaders are the lead implementers. We are glad that LGUs like the Province of Sarangani and Malapatan town had been our active partner in enhancing capability of our farmers in food production,” Chio said.

“With the FMR addressing the need to lower transport cost and postharvest losses, our highland farmers can are now encouraged to expand their production areas,” Musa said.

“Just recently, the provincial government has delivered 200 bags of corn seeds which is a big boost to the potential of our barangay to be one of the major corn producing areas. We are confident that more assistance will be poured in our area,” Musa said.

The establishment of the at least 8-kilometer FMR do not only benefited 6,000 residents, but also opened up other economic and social activities.

“There is already a regular motorcycle that ferries residents to the downtown area not to mention that enthusiasm among school children of going to school safely. More importantly, farmers in the areas have renewed their confidence to contribute in securing their families and community enough and affordable food,” Musa said. (Noel Provido)

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