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Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro – Residents from three sitios in Barangay Poblacion, Magsaysay can celebrate its first onion harvesting season with extra joy, as the Upgrading/Concreting of Barangay Poblacion Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) subproject of the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRPD) is 95% complete, and is expected to be completed this month.

The FMR, which runs for 5 kilometers long and 5 meters wide, began construction on the second half of 2020. With a total project cost of PhP98 million, the FMR is set to pass through three sitios in Barangay Poblacion, Magsaysay.

As the subproject nears completion, F.A. Torres Construction Project Manager Engineer Cesar N. Bernardo stated that despite setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, weather conditions, and lack of manpower due to cropping season, local health offices were able to assist them to continue with construction.

“Ang pandemic na naranasan natin sa ngayon ay talagang malaking challenge sa construction industry. Actually, kami dito, may ilang lingo rin kaming natigil ang trabaho dahil nga sa pagputok nitong COVID-19 virus. Nakipag-ugnayan kami sa municipal health office, sa barangay health office, sila ang magte-test dun sa mga tao at magce-certify na bago sila pumasok, sila ay COVID-free,” Engr. Bernardo expressed.

(The pandemic we are experiencing now is a really huge challenge to the construction industry. We actually had to stop working for a couple of weeks due to the insurgence of the COVID-19 virus. We coordinate with the Municipal Health Office and the Barangay Health Office. They are the ones who test and certify that the workers are COVID-free before they start working)

Although the project has yet to reach full completion, project beneficiaries were already experiencing the benefits of the subproject during the first onion harvesting season since its construction. According to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs), vehicles are now able to drive inside their sitio from the highway to pick up onions directly from their doorsteps, lowering their transportation and hauling costs.

“Dinadala namin dun ho sa highway. Ngayon ho, hindi na po kami maghahakot, dito na mismo sa amin ano kinukuha. ‘Yung mga nakaraan po – 2018, minsan meron lang bente, meron pa nga hong disi-otso. Pero ho ngayon, maganda po ang sibuyas ngayon, merong 45 pesos,” PAP Eugenio Madrid said.

(We bring the crops to the highway [before]. Now we don’t have to haul the crops there because the buyers are the ones who pick up the crops directly. Back in 2018, [onions] cost 18-20 pesos [per kilo], now we can sell them for 45 pesos)

In the long run, more than 8,000 subproject beneficiaries can look forward to poverty alleviation and socio-economic upliftment of their locality through the use of a quality FMR. # (Danica A. Brutas, DA-PRDP MIMAROPA RPCO InfoACE Unit)