LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – At least P2 billion was earmarked by the national government to bankroll the implementation of rehabilitation, upgrading and concreting works along national roads and secondary arterial roads in the different parts of the province in order to contribute in the government’s overall goal of improved infrastructure, Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan said here.
Cosalan, who is the chairman of the House committee on public works, said infrastructure development in the countryside is one of the president’s priority of the Aquino administration primarily geared towards contributing in improving the lives of people, especially the farmers who had been praying for good roads.
“Our vegetable farmers in the 13 towns will be the primary beneficiaries of improved national and secondary arterial roads because they will now have lesser transportation cost and that they could easily bring their goods to the market the soonest,” Cosalan stressed.
For this year, the lawmaker disclosed among the national roads that have been programmed for rehabilitation, upgrading and concreting include the 165-kilometer Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Sinipsip road, the Buguias-Manhoyohoy-Tinoc road, the Natubleng-Nabalicong-Pacso road and the Baguio-Asin-San Pascual-Aringay road.
Aside from the rehabilitation, upgrading and concreting of national and secondary arterial roads, Cosalan claimed works were also programmed by the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH) in order to make the historic 180-kilometer Baguio-Bontoc-Banaue road popularly known as the Halsema highway comply with the international standards of highways, particularly the installation of appropriate signages and the improvement of the pavement surface in the coming months.
He explained being the Salad Bowl of the Philippines, the province’s infrastructure must be put in place in order to contribute in lessening the transportation cost of vegetables from the farms to the market and even lessen the damages to the produce so that it will be able to pass the quality tests to be undertaken prior to the shipment of the highland vegetables to the different markets outside the Cordillera.
Cosalan underscored the province’s vegetable industry is a P5 billion industry that provides sources of livelihood to around 500,000 individuals from the 13 municipalities.
He explained lesser damage to agricultural crops as a result of good roads will also translate to better marketability of the assorted vegetables, especially in the high-end and regional markets.
According to him, the infrastructure boom in the countryside will empower farmers to continue producing highland vegetables but they were reminded not to inflict further damages to the environment in their places by expanding their commercial vegetable gardens to the undisturbed portions of the watersheds located within their places.
Cosalan also appealed to the farmers to start shifting to organic farming and they must be open to undergo trainings on good agricultural practices so that the goods to be produced will be able to pass the stringent requirements of the high-end and regional markets of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) considering the effectivity of the free trade agreement mandating the free flow of goods and services in the 10-member nations. By Dexter A. See