For habal–habal(motorcycle) driver Arnold Sanchez, driving through the rocky roads of Sogod for many years was a constant struggle.
“We would fall off our motorcycle because of the rocks and huge stones,” said Sanchez. “It was doubly hard because of the added expenses in vehicle maintenance. We had to change motorcycle parts more often.”
Today, Sanchez and the other residents along the road influence area of the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project infrastructure subproject, the rehabilitation/concreting of the Suba–Kanangkaan–San Vicente–San Juan farm-to-market road in Sogod, Southern Leyte, are glad and relieved of the significant improvements brought about by the 4.23495-kilometer project.
Only five months after completion, the residents can firmly attest that the new farm-to-market road benefits them in many ways. This, after the recently-conducted Rapid Appraisal of Emerging Benefits found that (1) there is a 75-percent reduction in travel time (exceeding the 50 percent target stated in the feasibility study); (2) there is a 14-percent increase in household income; and (3) a 30-percent reduction in transport cost.
The farm-to-market road is harmonized and aligned with the priorities and development direction of the province of Southern Leyte, which identified coconut as the principal crop to anchor the economic development of the province. The road benefits the coconut industry and the beneficiary barangays by providing easy and safe access to the coconut producing areas.
“Without a good road, we would cross rivers to go to San Juan from Kanangkaan. I did not expect that in my lifetime, I would be able to see a concrete road,” said Sanchez.
He also noted the unintended benefit such as the government’s program to rehabilitate their abaca plantation through the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority’s extension services—a grant from Agriculture chief Emmanuel F. Piñol.
Abaca used to be a primary agricultural crop of Sogodand the province of Southern Leyte until the viral plagues occurred. The new farm-to-market roadnow links the coconut producing barangays to the open markets, and is expected to further enhance the development of the coconut industry of Sogod. (September Noon A. Macahilo, PSO Visayas, InfoACE)