Farm-to-Market Road Makes Life of Leyte Copra Farmers Better
Copra farmers from Anahawan, Leyte spend P100 just to transport a sack of copra to town.
Anahawan Mayor Roberto A. Loquinte said this effectively discourages farmers from producing more, resulting in less earnings for farmers and making it more difficult for them to get out of poverty.
Anahawan is a coastal town in Southern Leyte that is classified as a fifth-class municipality. Because of its classification, it receives the least amount of budget every year from the national government. Lack of funds hampers the local government from undertaking more infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads (FMRs).
“Far distance and poor condition of farm-to-market road hinders us from undergoing massive farming production,” said Cipriano Huerte, a resident of barangay Poblacion in Anahawan.
FMRs are crucial as these allow farmers to easily connect to areas where they can sell their goods. Good roads allow farmers and buyers to use efficient modes of transportation, resulting in an efficient farming and trading system.
While most local government units (LGUs) with farming communities acknowledge the importance of FMRs, they do not have the necessary funds to implement these projects. Anahawan is one of the LGUs that would have to contend with scarce resources.
When the global food crisis hit in 2008, it highlighted the vulnerability of many developing countries to volatility in commodity prices. Programs were crafted to help vulnerable countries such as the Philippines to help them achieve “long-term food availability and security.” One such program is the Enhancement of Food Security (Efos) in the Visayas Project.
The European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development set aside €5.2 million for Efos. Here in the Philippines, the project was implemented by the Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zummenarbeit (GIZ) under the German government.
The local government of Anahawan was one of the beneficiaries of Efos which was undertaken from January 2010 to December 2011. In early 2011, it designed a comprehensive cash-for-work program aimed at improving a coherent and coordinated response to the problem of food security in its locale.
Under Efos, the local government undertook rehabilitation of 6-kilometer Anahawan FMR. The total cost of the project reached P4.34 million, with the EU providing P3.766 million and the local government providing P581,000 as counterpart.
The initiatives under Efos are cash-for-work programs, productivity enhancement projects and a crop insurance scheme.
The local government took a novel approach in rehabilitating the 6-kilometer road in that it did not tap a contractor for it. Under the Efos, the local government tapped farmers and residents in barangay Poblacion, sitio Hugpa and barangay Kagingkingan.
“Because the local government was the proponent, we are allowed to [craft our own strategy for implementing it. We decided to bid out the materials but we decided to hire local residents as laborers,” engineer Sandra Sy Pia of the local government of Anahawan said in an interview.
Pia said this resulted in cost savings because the local government did not have to tap a private contractor for the rehabilitation of the FMR. She said tapping private contractors is more expensive because they need to profit as well as the taxes they pass on to the proponent.
“We estimate that we saved around 50 percent if we compare it to other similar projects undertaken by a private contractor,” she said.
Hiring local residents is a component of the project. Under the FMR project for Anahawan, 435 local residents – including 127 women - were hired by the local government.
“The women were tasked to haul [stones]. This is the first time that we tapped women for an infrastructure project,” said Pia.
Each laborer, including the women, was paid P200 per day. Apart from their earnings, Pia said the participation of local residents enabled them to add to their skills.
“This approach [cash-for-work program] is worth replicating. We hope to undertake more projects like this in the future,” she said.
Loquinte, for his part, said the rehabilitation of the six-kilometer road reduced transport cost for copra farmers. He said he hopes it will pave the way for higher-food production in the areas it traverses.
“The farm-to-market road will provide other agricultural stakeholders an easier access to the farms. Uncultivated lands will be optimally used and an increased production in farming and forestry will be attained. The increase in agricultural produce translates to increased income of our farmers, thus meeting their basic needs,” he said.
By Business Mirror
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