AROROY, MASBATE – While more or less 2.6 million people have temporarily lost their jobs since COVID-19 hit the country, the construction of civil works for a Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)-funded enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject in Aroroy, Masbate provides job and income to 30 workers including mason, ordinary and skilled laborers.

The ongoing construction of the 6.83 million-worth coprahan/tapahan, charcoal processing center and warehouse for the Lubacon Coco Charcoal Production and Marketing Enterprise now achieved 90.85 percent physical progress.

According to Municipal Agriculturist and Municipal Project Management and Implementation Unit (MPMIU) Head Engr. Arvin C. Ostia, this is a big help to the community as many were affected by the economic impact of the pandemic. 

“Nakakatulong kasi kahit may GCQ, tuloy pa rin ang trabaho. Hindi sila nagugutom kasi may trabaho sila–yung mga laborers–yung mga workers natin. Nakakabili sila ng mga kailangan nila kasi every Saturday naman yung sahod nila,” he said.

Ostia added that the application of the Project’s Integrated Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (IESSF) which requires hiring priority to qualified local residents also provided local job opportunities in the community.

The MPMIU-Aroroy targets to finish the construction of the I-REAP subproject’s civil works by July 2020 in order to start the enterprise’s full-blown operation. The P10.42 million-worth Lubacon Coco Charcoal Production and Marketing Enterprise to be managed and operated by the Luy-A, Balete, Concepcion (LUBACON) Agro Scale Miners and Gold Processors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, will engage in producing charcoal out of coconut shell. It will also concentrate in processing charcoal dust into charcoal briquettes and coco-meat into copra. The start-up small enterprise subproject is projected to benefit 60 members of the organization through livelihood activities.

 “Tuwang-tuwa sila kasi nagka-conduct na kami ng pre-monitoring and evaluation para doon sa pagbibili ng coconut… Probably, pag ma-turn over namin yan by month of July, August magstart na kami ng pagbili nyan. Kumpleto na, magkakapera na ang mga coconut farmers,” Ostia added.

To guarantee the continuous implementation of PRDP subprojects nationwide, all PRDP staff from the national to the regional levels as well as their counterparts in the local government units, contractors and frontliners were issued with Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) identification cards. This is pursuant to Memorandum No. 886, series of 2020 signed by Undersecretary for Operations and Agri-Fisheries Mechanization and PRDP National Project Director Engr. Ariel T. Cayanan on April 12, 2020.

PRDP is a six-year national project under the Department of Agriculture with funding assistance from the World Bank. Implemented in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector, the Project aims to establish a modern, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector by providing key infrastructure, facilities, technology and information to raise incomes, productivity and competitiveness in the countryside. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Geotagged photos of the ongoing construction of the coprahan/tapahan, charcoal processing center and warehouse for the P10.42 million-worth Lubacon Coco Charcoal Production and Marketing Enterprise in Aroroy, Masbate.

Photo Credits: Engr. Philbert M. Nebres, PRDP-Bicol Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Officer