THE early part of 2017 proves promising as more roads amounting to P895,395,000 will be rehabilitated and concreted following world class standards in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Department of Agriculture's Philippine Rural Development Project (DA PRDP) approved more subproject proposals under the Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component for CAR aimed at linking rural coffee producers to the market.

"The successive release of No Objection Letters No. 2 (NOL 2) signals the final approval of subproject proposals to start off with their implementation in the provinces of Benguet, Kalinga and Mountain Province," said regional executive director Dr. Lorenzo Caranguian.

Extreme rugged roads were reported to be a major impediment to agricultural products' marketability and sustainability - a common denominator gleaned from all the feasibility studies submitted to support these proposals, leading to the said approval.

The subprojects approved in the region includes the improvement of Banata-Sumey-ang-Cuba-Sadsadan Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) of Bauko, Mountain Province; improvement of Poblacion-Bantay FMR of Paracelis, Mountain Province; improvement of Besao-Nacawang, Tadian-Mabalite FMR (Package I) of Besao, MountainProvince; improvement of Besao-Nacawang, Tadian-Mabalite FMR (Package 2) of Besao, Mountain Province; improvement of Catabbogan-Wagud FMR of Pinukpuk, Kalinga; improvement of KM 49 to Ambakian FMR of Kabayan, Benguet and iAlong Jose Mencio FMR of Atok, Benguet.

Reports reveal these subproject proposals took three years in the making due to the challenging process required by the World Bank.

"But looking into the other side of the coin, the roads are to be built to last at least 20 years with minimal repairs," Caranguian added. "This is because those WB-funded projects are to undergo strict compliance following WB standards while strictly guided by the DPWH's blue book."

These roads will transform underdeveloped, rocky and muddy roads from the outskirt rural areas and will principally benefit smallholder farmers who experience difficulty in transporting their agricultural products that have promising potential for market development in order to gain access to the coffee value chains, boost their income through additional rural non-farm enterprises, and possible diversification into high value activities.

"The soon-to-be concreted roads will likewise open doors to other incidental benefits to the communities directly affected as the ripple effect holds promising economic plus factors in the long run," said assistant director Danilo Daguio, Deputy Project Director to the DA PRDP Regional Project Coordination Office.

Daguio encouraged other provinces to seize this opportunity as the project is already in its third year of implementation.

"There is no limit in the cost of subproject proposals so I hope other provinces in CAR who have not yet proposed for PRDP funding will catch up with their proposals," he urged.

The PRDP is a six year project designed to establish the government platform for a modern, climate-smart and market-oriented agri-fishery sector. It will partner with the local government units and the private sector in providing key infrastructure, facilities, technology, and information that will raise incomes, productivity, and competitiveness in the countryside - a project leading towards inclusive growth through broad-based agro-industrial development. (Mabel Zabala/DA-PRDP)