VIRAC, CATANDUANES – Farmers from four abaca-producing barangays in Caramoran, this province will soon benefit from a 7.37 kilometer farm-to-market road under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).

The P126.99 million-worth Concreting of Junction Sabangan-Datag East FMR is projected to reduce travel time for a total of 4,058 population of Brgy. Sabangan, Panique, Maui and Datag East. Majority of the project beneficiaries are farmers engaged in abaca. Data from the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) in 2016 shows that Caramoran is the province’s top producer of abaca with 5,126.33 metric tons or 19% of the total production. With 6,407.91 hectares of land devoted to abaca farming, the municipality also has the biggest abaca production area in the province.

Upon road completion, the I-BUILD subproject aims to reduce hauling cost of commodities from P1.50 per kilogram to P0.75 and decrease travel time from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. Also, the FMR is projected to increase traffic count through additional one unit of jeepney, tricycle, private vehicle and truck starting year one and additional three units of motorcycles beginning year 3. The subproject is designed to reduce transport losses for each type of commodity: 5 percent for abaca and banana, 3% for rice, coconut, tiger grass and abaca (bacbac), 4 percent for nipa shingle and rootcrops and 6% for fisheries and livestock. Moreover, with the I-BUILD subproject, PRDP envisions the development of additional 35 hectares of agricultural land for abaca production. The FMR subproject, which will serve as a diversion road, will also indirectly benefit about 60 percent of the population from the municipality of Pandan.

The only infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subproject that qualified to the I-BUILD prioritization scheme conducted in 2018, the Concreting of Junction Sabangan-Datag East FMR will complement the P19.45 million-worth PRDP enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject Abaca Fiber Processing and Trading Enterprise being implemented by the Pinoy Lingap Damayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PLDC).

PRDP-Bicol conducted a Pre-Construction Conference attended by the Bids and Awards Committee, Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) of Catanduanes and representatives from the contractor on January 11, 2019 to orient the responsible parties on financial management, contract and contract documents, I-BUILD guidelines and Compliance on Geotagged Documents to guarantee smooth project implementation. The Project issued the subproject’s No Objection Letter 2 (Notice of Award and Notice to Proceed) on December 20, 2018. PPMIU-Catanduanes targets to start the road construction in February 2019. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)