Road rehab seen to boost vegetable industry in South Cotabato

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 January)— The marketing potentials of vegetables produced in a remote village in Tupi town, South Cotabato is getting a major boost with the rehabilitation of a farming road there, an official said.

Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said the road to Barangay Miasong, considered the “vegetable bowl” of South Cotabato, will be improved to enhance the area’s trading activities.

The Department of Budget and Management has released a special purpose fund worth nearly P9 million to the Department of Public Works and Highways to rehabilitate the Cebuano-Linan-Miasong farm-to-market road.

“Soon, vegetable products from Miasong will reach the town’s bagsakan [trading] center easily,” he said.

Miasong, the remotest village of Tupi, can be accessed through Barangay Maltana in a grueling two-hour ride.

But with the 24-kilometer Cebuano-Linan-Miasong road, local officials projected the travel time to be cut by half once the rehabilitation is completed reportedly in the next few weeks.

Miasong is said to be supplying 80% of the vegetable requirements in South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City.

The provincial agriculture office earlier estimated that there are 300 hectares of vegetable farms in Miasong.

Vegetables produced in the village are bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant, radish and potatoes, among others.

Many of the wet markets of the big malls in this city and nearby General Santos City are selling vegetables produced in Miasong.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato chief agriculturist, earlier proposed the possible expansion of the Roll On-Roll Off (Roro) transport system either in General Santos City or Glan in Sarangani province to facilitate the fast transport of perishable goods in Region 12 to other domestic markets.

He said the Department of Agriculture has been working to develop parts of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao region as the country’s next “vegetable basket.”

“If the RoRo route comes closer to us, we can easily ship out our vegetable products from the region to other domestic markets and at a cheaper price,” Legaste said.

The setting up of a RoRo port in Glan or in General Santos will stand to benefit thousands of farmers in South Cotabato and neighboring areas who have been faced with the high cost of transportation using commercial vessels, he noted.

Earlier, the Regional Development Council of Region 12 also pushed for the opening of a RoRo route in the region.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Legaste said the existing RoRo routes only cover portions of northern, western and eastern Mindanao through the “western and central shipping highways.”

The western highway starts in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte and goes off to Dumaguete City, Bacolod City, Iloilo, Caticlan and Roxas City in the Visayas; and, Mindoro and Batangas in Luzon.

The central highway covers Cagayan de Oro City and Balingoan, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin in Mindanao; Bohol and Cebu in Visayas; and, Masbate and Camarines Sur in Luzon. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)