Better road frees farmers from transport woes, relief to schoolchildren
Salay, Misamis Oriental – Teofilo Ubatay Jr., 53, grew up in barangay Membuli in the slope portion of this town burdened by a rugged road that has made it impossible for farmers like him to earn sufficiently.
“The road’s poor condition has been the problem of our village ever since. Even small trucks cannot reach near our farm areas because it is rocky and the terrain is uneven,” Ubatay said.
Ubatay recalls that farmers would carry their products like bananas, which is commonly grown in the village, like a relay, and haul it on either a makeshift carriage known as karosa pulled by carabaos or carried by horses.
“It was difficult. The task was laborious and it takes hours before our products reach the market,” he said.
Joan Caculan, another resident farmer, said that they pay a hauling fee of P60 per sack of farm products like cassava, corn and banana to habal-habal or single-motor vehicles.
She added farmers incur production losses with products like banana getting battered with the road’s poor condition.
“Some products get rejected and it is a big loss to our income. We are left with little just enough for our daily sustenance,” she said.
But the concreting of a new farm-to-market road (FMR) in their village, which was completed in May last year, the burden of transport woes has been lifted off the shoulders of farmers like Ubatay and Caculan.
“We were able to really make use of the road and it has helped us a lot in transporting our products from the farm to the market since trucks can now enter near our farm areas,” Ubatay said.
Now, travel time has been cut in half, with some farmers now able to travel to the market in 30 minutes. Hauling costs have been reduced significantly from P60 to P25-30.
The 1.8-kilometer FMR was implemented under DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) with a cost of P18.6 million. Through its infrastructure component, PRDP aims to build reliable road networks that connect production areas to markets.
Membuli’s agricultural area is mostly planted with coconut, banana, corn and lanzones.
Resident-farmer Leonida Aquilam said that with the new road they plan to expand their area planted to lanzones, since “the road is now accessible.”
Relief to schoolchildren
The new Membuli FMR is expected to benefit around 1,400 residents including schoolchildren who used to traverse the difficult road going to their school.
“The children had to walk the pockmarked road and it gets worse when it rains. They even experienced stumbling over the slippery road,” Annieliz Odchigue, a teacher of Membuli Elementary School said.
But with the concreted road, Odchigue said that motor vehicles are now able to fetch and deliver the schoolchildren to the school.
“I noticed that we have more enrollees now and the parents cited the accessibility of the road as a reason,” she said.
According to Membuli Barangay Captain Fructoso Abejar, the barangay officials have assured that they will conduct regular cleanup drives along its shouldering to maintain the road that is a “long-answered prayer” for the people. (Jay M. Rosas, PRDP Mindanao)