ILOILO CITY— Iloilo’s farming and fishing community is set to reap benefits from the Farm-to-Market Road Network Plan (FMRNP), as unveiled by the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) during a high-profile Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting held in this city.


Honorable Deputy Majority Leader Janette Loreto-Garin, representing the First District of Iloilo, led the event attended by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.


House Speaker Romualdez’s presence underscored the national significance of the FMRNP project and highlighted the strong support from the House of Representatives, suggesting a high level of commitment to fostering rural development through infrastructure improvements specifically farm-to-market roads (FMRs).


Attending the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting on April 25, 2024 from left to right in front were Usec. Terrence Calatrava (Presidential Assistant for the Visayas), Congressman Lex Anthony Cris Colada (Party List – AAMBIS-OWA), Rep. Elizaldy Co (Party List – AKO BICOL), Rep. James “Jojo” Ang Jr. (Party List – USWAG ILONGGO), Speaker of the House of Representatives Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Mayor Oscar “Richard” Serag Garin Jr. (Miagao, Iloilo), Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda (Iloilo City, Lone District), Rep. Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th district), DA-BAFE Dir. Ariodear Rico, and Regional Exec. Dir. Dennis Arpia (DA-RFO VI)


The Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting, held under the theme “Ako ang Bagong Pilipino, Para sa Bagong Pilipinas,” gathered key officials, including representatives from the Department of Agriculture, local government leaders, and other influential stakeholders in the agriculture and fisheries sector to discuss the FMRNP’s potential impact on rural development and economic growth.


The draft Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) Bill, introduced by DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico, forms the core of this comprehensive plan. By focusing on the development and expansion of farm-to-market roads, the proposed legislation aims to streamline the transportation of agricultural and fisheries commodities from production areas to markets, offering a significant boost to Iloilo’s farmers and fisherfolks. This streamlined connectivity is expected to open up new livelihood opportunities, reducing the time and cost of transporting produce, and ultimately leading to higher profits.


Director Rico’s presentation of the draft FMR Bill detailed the scope of the proposed farm-to-market road network, spanning 64,151 kilometers from 2025 to 2030. The project, supported by an annual budget allocation of P50 billion, represents a substantial investment in enhancing agricultural connectivity. The initiative also includes the development of an FMR Digital Database and Information System, a technology-driven platform designed to facilitate better planning, informed policymaking, and strategic resource allocation, said Dir. Rico.


Meanwhile, House Deputy Majority Leader Garin underscored the importance of collaboration among government agencies, local leaders, and community stakeholders. This unified approach will ensure the project’s successful implementation and help effectively address the needs of Iloilo’s agricultural communities, she said.


The Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting also served as a forum for farmers and fisherfolks to express their concerns and discuss how improved infrastructure could benefit their livelihoods. By fostering a more inclusive and transparent dialogue, the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting set the stage for development of agricultural resilience in Iloilo.


Overall, BAFE’s farm-to-market road network plan has the potential to drive significant growth in Iloilo’s agricultural sector. With strong support from both local and national levels, including the House Speaker’s presence, this initiative is poised to make a lasting impact on the provincial economy and rural communities. ###Ralph Angelo Ongka, DA-BAFE