Kalibo, Aklan – In a pivotal effort to enhance the agricultural infrastructure in Western Visayas, the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) led a three-day planning workshop and coordination meeting from June 25 to 27, 2024. The event aimed at localizing the Regional Farm-to-Market Network Road Program (FMRNP) and brought together key officials from national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in Aklan, Antique, and Capiz provinces.

The workshop focused on mapping existing road networks and pinpointing areas needing development or rehabilitation. The objective is to craft a comprehensive farm-to-market road (FMR) plan tailored to the unique needs of provinces, cities, and municipalities.

DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico highlighted the crucial role of these roads in advancing the agricultural sector. “We are here to prepare the local network plan, showcasing our commitment to President Marcos’s directive to build better and more. This effort is not just a DA initiative but a joint endeavor with DPWH, DTI, DILG, DOT, and others,” Dir. Rico stated.

The significance of the initiative was underscored by video messages from DILG Undersecretary Odilon Pasaraba who emphasized the importance of farm-to-market roads in ensuring food security and economic growth. “By boosting mobility and broadening the reach of produce, these infrastructure projects benefit both farmers and consumers,” Usec. Pasaraba said, noting that 51% of the target kilometers had already been constructed as of January this year.

Congressman Teodorico Haresco Jr. of the 2nd District of Aklan lauded the collaborative efforts of various agencies in formulating and localizing the FMRNP. “This achievement underscores the Department of Agriculture’s dedication to connecting agricultural seΒ­ctors with markets, fostering economic growth, and improving livelihoods,” Cong. Haresco remarked.

Local officials, including Mayor Arnold Perez of Pilar, Capiz, Mayor Catherine Dequina- Bello of Panitan, Capiz, and Mayor Henry Tumlos of Pontevedra, Capiz, were actively involved in the discussions, voicing their support for the initiative.

The ambitious goals of the FMRNP align with the government’s broader objectives of community development and economic upliftment. By enhancing rural infrastructure and market accessibility, the plan aims to improve the quality of life for farmers and stimulate sustainable economic development.

Usec. Pasaraba encouraged LGUs to leverage innovative tools such as the GEOAGRI for project mapping and harmonizing efforts. “Let us view farm-to-market roads not merely as physical structures but as vibrant settings in our nation’s journey toward progress and development,” he urged.

The workshop also focused on digitalization efforts, including the inventory and mapping of local road networks through the GEOAGRI system. This system will assist LGUs in developing comprehensive network plans for 2025-2028, encompassing existing roads needing rehabilitation and new road openings. The DA, in conjunction with other national line agencies, aims to ensure that every municipality produces a local farm-to-market road output, thus enhancing the agricultural sector’s efficiency and connectivity. The gathering reinforced the commitment to further mechanize and localize the FMRNP to meet the distinct needs of various regions and provinces. The dedication of all stakeholders is pivotal in building the infrastructure that supports farmers and promotes sustainable economic growth. ###DA-BAFE ICTST

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