President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. wants to increase the production of high-value crops by expanding the Philippines’s farm-to-market road (FMR) network.
During a sectoral meeting in Malacañang last Tuesday, the chief executive ordered the Department Agriculture (DA) to coordinate with concerned government agencies and local government units (LGU) to come up with a list of areas that will be prioritized under the government’s Farm-to-Market Roads National Plan.
“We have to be in coordination with other departments as to where are the areas that we want to develop and where we will start planting high-value crops in this area, for example,” the chief executive said partly in Filipino.
Agriculture products in the High Value Crops Development Program include mango, banana, coffee, cacao, and onion.
The top producing provinces in 2020 for high-value crops are Pangasinan (mango), Masbate (jackfruit), Bukidnon (pineapple), Davao Del Norte (banana), Davao City (cacao), Davao City (durian), Davao Del Sur (coffee), Sulu (coffee), Sultan Kudarat (coffee), Cotabato (saba banana).
Among those to be prioritized for FMR initiatives are roads that are heavily used, but not in good condition, as well as those damaged by flood and other natural disasters.
“We’ll have to assess it in terms of need. Where do we need the roads most,” Marcos said.
The government is targeting to construct 131,410.66 kilometers (km) of FMRs, which are expected to benefit the country’s 14 million hectares of agriculture and fisheries production areas.
As of October 2022, the DA and other government agencies have completed a total of 67,255.46 km or 51 percent of the said FMR projects.
A total of 64,155.20 km of FMRs has yet to be completed, requiring an investment of P962.325 billion.
Of these, only 46,937.1 km of proposed FMR projects were from the local government units (LGUs), as of August 1.
Also discussed in the sectoral meeting are the details of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan 2021-2030.
The initiative aims to make the country “food-and-nutrition secured” and empower local farmers and fishers.
Last July 2022, Marcos said the government will seek additional overseas funding to construct more FMRs.
“FMR is the first step to solve some of the supply chain problems. So let us prioritize those who are producing these [food items],” Marcos said.
In 2021, food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan urged LGUs to allocate at least 10 percent of their budget starting 2022 for food production programs and postharvest investments.
The group said 10 percent or about P23.4 billion of the additional P234.6 billion funds of the LGUs due to the Mandanas ruling should be allocated for improving local food systems.
It added that 60 percent of the allocation or about P14.04 billion should be invested in postharvest infrastructure to cut the country’s food waste while the remaining fund could be used to bankroll productivity enhancement programs.
“We suggest that 10 percent of the funds or P23.4 billion be allocated for this annually, especially in the countryside where most production is happening. The allocation can be adjusted once LGUs reach the desired production and post-harvest losses targets,” the group said.
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