‘Wag puro expressway, tren: Piñol wants more farm-to-market roads in ‘Build’ program
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol wants more arterial roads in infrastructure budget.
“The build, build, build program of government should be extended to arterial and farm-to-market roads (FMR) leading to the food production areas,” he said Monday in his official Facebook account.
Piñol said only about 900 kilometers of FMRs can be built from the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s P9.5 billion budget for this undertaking.
“Current backlog in the FMR program is 13,000 km,” he said.
He stressed it would take about 12 years to address such backlog if FMR-building continues at the rate it is going.
Citing a report he received, Piñol said a sack of camote produced in Cebu province’s uplands sells in the market for about P2,000, while the farmer that grew the crop earned only P300.
“The price went up because that camote had to be carried on the back of a ‘kargador’ and hauled by jeep to the market,” he said, emphasizing FMRs’ importance.
Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 defines FMRs as “roads linking the agriculture and fisheries production sites, coastal landing points, and post-harvest facilities to the market and arterial roads and highways.”
“Public Infrastructure investments shall give preference to the kind, type, and model of infrastructure facilities that are cost-effective and will be useful for the production, conservation, and distribution of most commodities and should benefit the most number of agriculture and fisheries producers and processors,” RA 8435 reads.
RA 8435 also mandates the DA to coordinate with local government units and their resident-farmers and fisherfolk “to identify priority locations of FMRs that take into account the number of farmer and fisherfolk and their families who shall benefit therefrom and the amount, kind, and importance of agricultural and fisheries products produced in the area.”
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last week said agriculture grew 0.07 percent in 2018’s second quarter.
Reporting on the Philippine economy’s performance during the same period, the PSA also said agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing collectively grew only 0.2 percent during the same period.
Piñol said such findings show “agriculture, without added intervention from government and with the reduction of its budget, is leveling off”.
Agriculture will remain that way unless reforms are made to help boost this sector, he said.