As a copra farmer, Pascual Hernandez, 43, of Brgy. Cuco in Pasacao, Camarines Sur used to earn P1,200 every two months, depending on the harvest. Married but has no children yet, Hernandez saw a better economic opportunity when the construction work for the Upgrading of Cuco-Bagong Silang Farm to Market Road (FMR) started.

A skilled worker, he applied as mason and was instantly hired on May 21, 2018. Now, Hernandez receives P2,100 weekly for doing mason work from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Monday to Saturday.

“Nakakatipon-tipon na ako kumpara sa dati kong trabaho. Marhay man ta natinampuhan man digdi makakatabang ini sa pagluluwas nin copra (Unlike in my previous job, in this work, I can save some of my income. It is good that finally a concrete road is being constructed here. It will greatly help in hauling copra from the farm to the market),” he said.

Hernandez was among the 156 local workers employed through the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)-funded infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subproject in Pasacao, Camarines Sur. Of the total workers employed, 47 are skilled and 109 are unskilled.

The PRDP adopts the Labor-Based Equipment Supported (LB/ES) methods of construction and maintenance of rural infrastructure, in support of the employment generation thrust of the national government.

Under the Project’s General Implementation Arrangement, as far as practicable, 80 percent of the labor force should be taken from the partner-community. This makes the beneficiaries within the locality a priority in labor force selection.

The Upgrading of the 8.50-kilometer Cuco-Bagong Silang FMR is one of the three on-going PRDP I-BUILD subprojects of the Province of Camarines Sur. The P50.58 million-worth subproject will benefit 2,360 individuals or 546 households particularly farmers engaged in rice, corn, coconut, banana, vegetables and rootcrops production. As of October 2018, the Upgrading of Cuco-Bagong Silang FMR has a physical progress of 62.04 percent.

The PRDP is a six-year World Bank-assisted project that aims to increase rural incomes and enhance farms and fishery productivity in the targeted areas by providing rural infrastructure and enterprise development support to boost farmers and fisherfolk’s marketable surpluses and access to markets. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)