Agrarian reform beneficiaries in Western Visayas will soon enjoy greater economic opportunities as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), turned over various infrastructure projects in support of the country’s rural development program.

The P126-million worth of infrastructure includes farm-to-market roads (FMRs), irrigation, bridges and post-harvest facilities.

DAR Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted Projects Herman Ongkiko said he expects a big economic turnaround for the agrarian reform communities (ARCs) now that these farm-support projects are completed.

Ongkiko said the projects implemented under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Projects (ARISP) were given in “packages” to ARCs in the provinces of Aklan, Antique and Iloilo.

“A ‘package’ may include two or more projects such as an FMR, an irrigation facility and a post-harvest facility (PHF). We packaged it that way so that the improvement in rural economy will be great,” said Ongkiko.

He explained that each infrastructure complements the needs of farmers. “The irrigation facility will ensure that farmers will harvest crops, the PHF is where they will store and process their agri-products and the concreted FMR will bring their products to the markets.”

More than 3,000 farmers residing in ARCs are the direct beneficiaries of the projects. The ARCs are: the Absipa ARC in Iloilo (Abangay, Sinibaan and Pandan, the SASJ (Sta. Ana-San Joaquin) ARC in Antique and the Bentch (Balusbus, El Progreso, Nazareth, Tag Osip, Cabugan and Havana) ARC in Aklan.

Among the projects that were turned over recently include: In Aklan, the El Progreso-Tag Osip road and the PHF in Buruanga, and the Kabulihan bridge in Malay. In Antique, The San Joaquin-Sta. Ana (SASJ) Communal Irrigation Project, the Agdugayan-San Joaquin-Sta. Ana road and the SASJ Post-Harvest Facility. In Iloilo, the Talanago-Sitio Sibucao road and the Abangay Communal Irrigation Project.

Present during the project turn over were DAR Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted Projects Herman Ongkiko, Jica Project Advisor Kumiko Ogawa, ARISP National Project Director Ma. Celerina Afable, DAR Regional Director Gideon Umadhay and the municipal mayors.