SAINT BERNARD, Southern Leyte -- The government will embark on a P182.7-million farm-to-market road in this town to prop local economy.

The World Bank-funded project will enhance transport in nine villages between Mahayahay village in Saint Bernard town and Manalog village in Hinunangan town, known farming communities.

Southern Leyte Governor Roger Mercado said “this is one dream made real. I thought we will never reach this far. At least, our sacrifices paid off. Of course, this will not be possible if not for the Department of Agriculture helping us all the way.”

He pointed out, “Now, we expect more areas to be developed because of the new road. In few years, along with the rise in economic activities here, we expect improvement also in the living condition of our farmers.”

Department of Agriculture (DA) Eastern Visayas Regional Executive Director and concurrent PRDP Regional Project Director Leo Cañeda said that “Southern Leyte has the biggest projects funded under the PRDP in the entire region and, perhaps even ranks among the highest PRDP funded projects throughout the country.”

The project, once completed, will link the municipalities of Saint Bernard and Hinunangan, the province’s top rice-producing areas. Apart from rice, other major agricultural products in these municipalities include coconut, banana, abaca, root crops and vegetables.

This is the region’s second PRDP funded road project to be implemented following a similar sub-project in Sogod, Southern Leyte, which started in August 2015.

The rural road network has a total length of 16.58 kilometers and will benefit 2,118 households.

Cañeda said the road project would be very beneficial to the residents in transporting farm products to the town market. It will contribute to increasing the farmers’ income.

“Southern Leyte, once upon a time, ranks among those with highest poverty incidence but in just few years, it was able to turnaround the situation. This time, the province has the lowest poverty incidence in the region. This simply indicates how the local leadership works hard to address the situation,” he said.

Evangeline Eguna, president of the Mahayag Women’s Association in Saint Bernard, said the project will help particularly in terms of the marketing of their root crop products.

“The project will result in reduced travel time, lower transport cost and, will bring better marketing options for the farmers with the two municipalities that will be connected by a good road network,” Eguna said. (PNA)