Lucena FMR improves way of life for farmers, residents
A crossroad of people and commerce from different directions and walks of life, Lucena City, the only highly urbanized city (HUC) in CALABARZON region, also has large tract of agricultural lands and other agriculture-based businesses.
Lucena has a total crop production area of 2,911.59 hectares equivalent to 35% of its total land area. This land supports the livelihood of 2,022 farmers producing rice, corn, coconut, and high value crops. The city is also home to agriculture-based processing companies with export-quality products.
To provide new opportunities to its rural population, the city government of Lucena partners with the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) for the Rehabilitation of Purok Baybayin–Ibabang Dupay–Purok Centro Itaas–Ilayang Dupay Farm-to-Market road (FMR).
Virgin coconut oil (VCO), a priority commodity of the province, justified the need for the FMR. The road will support the increasing planting areas and volume of coconut production in the vicinity. The 1.92-kilometer road traverses the barangays of Ilayang Dupay, the second largest cocal producing barangay, and Ibabang Dupay. It connects the area to the diversion road in Ibabang Dupay and an existing FMR in Ilayang Dupay.
Ilayang Dupay, classified as rural barangay of the city government, has 250.35 hectares of agricultural land, 55% of its total land area, planted mostly of rice and coconut. Its 418 households are primarily engaged in farming. Meanwhile, Ibabang Dupay, a sub-urban barangay, is home to a number of agriculture-based companies.
Based on the data of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit and Economics Unit of the CALABARZON Regional Project Coordination Office (RPCO), monthly farm income increased by 22% from P25,250 to P33,333 after the road was completely paved. Off-farm monthly income also increased by 25% while non-farm monthly income increased by 67%.
Some residents also expanded their farm operations beyond growing crops. Augusto Enriquez of Ilayang Dupay has also begun raising pigs. “Nakita ng kasosyo na maganda ‘yong lugar para sa pag-aalaga ng baboy. Maganda na ang kalsada kaya madaling dalhin ang mga gamit sa’min at mailabas ang mga baboy para ibenta (My business partner saw how conducive the place is for swine raising. The road is convenient for transporting materials as well as of pigs when they are ready for sale),” he said.
Huge reduction from 104 minutes to 19 minutes in travel time was also achieved. This is a major improvement to their production and market reach because unlike before, jeepneys and tricycles can now deliver goods more than twice a day.
Furthermore, new businesses such as sari-sari store and ukay-ukay are being built in the area. The FMR also encouraged mobile vendors of fish, food products, houseware, and kitchenware to sell in the area. Some people even bought motorcycles and other types of vehicles since the FMR was paved.
Likewise, the site was selected for the construction of a new high school building due to the improved road condition. ### (Lawrence Albert Bariring, PRDP CALABARZON RPCO)