The Department of Agrarian Reform of Agusan del Norte has started the phase I of the rehabilitation and concreting of the 1.7 kilometers farm-to-market road (FMR) project under the Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE).

The P23.5 million project is part of the infra component under the P180-million project investment for the Up Scaling Abaca Value Chain Enterprise investment of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the abaca farmers in the province of Agusan del Norte involving Tubay, Jabonga, Kitcharao and Santiago or TUJAKITSAN cluster.

“The infra project will address the challenges faced by at least 487 household small abaca farmers in Barangay Cadahondahonan and of some neighboring barangays of Santiago town,” said PARPO II Andre Atega.

“The existing 4-kilometer road in the project site is made of gravel and earth, which becomes impassable during rainy season. This condition makes it difficult for the residents to commute to and from the road junction of Maharlika Highway,” Atega added.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Andre B. Atega also emphasized that providing the farmers access to market is a great help and is expected to increase their productivity and income.

“They can start to engage in various livelihood activities with easier time travelling and selling their goods to the market,” PARPO II Atega explained.

Engr. Raul N. Hermoso, Project ConVERGE Rural Infrastructure Coordinator, said the phase I has a physical accomplishment of 78% as of June 30 and is expected to be completed by the month of September this year.

However, Engr. Hermoso said that Phase II has a length of 2.2 kilometers with an estimated project cost of P30 million is still subject for approval. “The completion of Phase I and Phase II that connect Sitio Cadahondahonan to NRJ – Poblacion II, will provide good road access to farmers and residents,” Engr. Hermoso said.

According to Provincial Project Coordinator Annelyn R. Chan, the targeted beneficiaries are expected to improve their production and income by at least 20%.

“The target beneficiaries are abaca farmers comprising of agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmholders and Indigenous Peoples (IPs),” Chan added.

Chairman Felix Lambigit of Cadahondahonan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, said that for decades, local residents of Cadahondahonan have been contented of their situations having an inefficient means to transport their harvests to the market.

Chairman Lambigit further said that the poor road condition, made worse when the rainy season comes, most of the local resident hardly bring their agricultural products.

“Only few of us, who prefered to carry on their produce for about 4 kilometers to maharlika road junction, while few of local farmers had have hired habal-habal (Single motor with carrier both sides) could be able to bring agricultural product to the market,” Chairman Lambigit said in vernacular.

The project is also assisted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the local Government of Santiago.