October 3, 2023

Residents from the far-off barangays of Flora, Apayao are now starting to reap the benefits of the improved Sta. Maria-Mallig-Upper Atok Farm-to-Market Road (FMR).

Implemented under the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) and the provincial government of Apayao, the 11.8-kilometer road project attained a 100 percent physical accomplishment rate on June 30, according to the joint inspectorate team.

With its completion, the FMR is now benefitting more than 298 households within its road influence area. It covers barangays Sta. Maria, Mallig, and Upper Atok, where bulk of the municipality’s banana production comes from.

Provincial Agriculturist Prudencio G. Bosing said the road improvement has facilitated the movement of commodities produced within the project area, particularly banana, since Flora is where large plantations of banana can be found.

Before the road improvement, sledge carts and carabaos are mostly used by farmers in transporting their agricultural produce from their farms/residences to the nearest public utility transport post located at Barangay Sta. Maria. Now, private vehicles and motorcycles can now safely pass through the road without hassle.

Despite the improvement, the barangays covered by the FMR are besieged by the local insurgency, particularly Upper Atok and parts of Mallig.

With the infrastructure project giving life to the community, Rep. Eleanor C. Begtang-Bulut reported several rebels have already yielded for a chance at more livelihood opportunities.

“This PRDP road in Flora has really helped us in our efforts to end local insurgency and because of this road, more than 200 leftists in Barangay Upper Atok have surrendered recently,” Begtang-Bulut said.

Approved in October 2020 to develop the banana industry in the province, the P195.95-million worth FMR is shared by the World Bank (80 percent loan proceeds), the national government through the DA (10 percent0, and the Apayao PLGU (10 percent).

To ensure the smooth completion of the FMR, a final inspection was conducted from June 22 to 23 by the inspectorate team composed of representatives from the cluster and regional levels of the DA-PRDP, together with representatives from the Goldrich Construction and Trading and from the PPMIU of LGU Apayao. – Elvy T. Estacio