Road project to boost agribusiness in South Cotabato starts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 February) — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started the ground works for the initial phase of a major road project that will eventually connect potential agribusiness production areas in three municipalities in South Cotabato province.

Julgen Dajay, municipal planning and development officer of Tupi town, said Monday the DPWH in Region 12 is currently concreting a farm-to-market road from the national highway leading to Barangay Kalkam in the area to facilitate the implementation of the road project.

He said the national government recently approved the release of around P20 million for the first phase of the alternate road network, which will later link the municipalities of Tupi, Banga and T’boli.

The appropriation will mainly cover for the rehabilitation and concreting of the farm-to-market road from Barangay Kalkam proper to Sitio Tablao in Tupi, he said.

“This road project, which will have a standard width of five meters, will eventually go all the way to Banga town,” Dajay said.

Aside from the Kalkam-Tablao road, he said two more components of the alternate road network are lined up for implementation within the next two years with a proposed budget of around P20 million each.

He said these are the Tablao to Upper Village (Barangay Bunao) in Tupi and the Upper Village to Barangay Lampari in Banga.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) endorsed the project’s funding and implementation two years ago as part of the national government’s priority food security-related initiatives for the area.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala endorsed the road project under the South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (Socsksargen) Area Development Project (ADP).

Alcala chairs the Socsksargen ADP board, which oversees the implementation of key agri-infrastructure, food security projects and other vital development initiatives in Region 12.

Based on its development plan, the road network will cover various prime agricultural production areas and communities in the upland portions of the municipalities of Tupi, Banga and eventually in T’boli.

It will start from the junction of Barangay Cebuano along the national highway in Tupi town and will run through Barangay Kalkam, the Roxas mountain range, Barangay Lampari in Banga town and eventually in T’boli town.

The area hosts palay and corn farms and plantation areas of banana, pineapple, vegetables, fruits and other high-value crops.

A report released by DA Region 12 said the road network will reduce the distance of the usual travel from Tupi to T’boli towns by 40 kilometers.

It will facilitate easy access and make the movement of people and products from the three municipalities faster, it said.

The agency said the alternate road will later help decongest traffic at portions of the national highway that passes through the city proper of Koronadal City, which is the capital city of South Cotabato province.

Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo said the road project complements with their vision to eventually transform the area as the province’s main trading center for agricultural products.

“Apart from cutting the travel time, products coming from the province’s upper valley and some areas in Sultan Kudarat province will soon land in our area,” he said. (MindaNews)