THE Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) program should be harmonized with infrastructure for agriculture if it is to successfully address poverty and spur agricultural development, according to the secretary-general of a party-list representing the agriculture sector.
“If the administration is intent on bringing down the poverty rate to 14 percent by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, the Build, Build, Build program should incorporate comprehensive plans for farm to market roads, for example,” AGRI Party-list Secretary General Benjie Martinez said.
Big-ticket transportation hub projects should be linked with farm to market and other service roads so that the flow of agricultural production is facilitated, the AGRI party-list officer added.
The government is looking at 75 flagship projects, which include six airports, nine railways, three bus rapid transits, 32 roads and bridges, and four seaports that are intended to help bring down the costs of production, improve rural income, spur countryside investments, facilitate the movement of goods and people, and create more jobs.
Government plans to spend a total 8.4 trillion pesos for infrastructure in the next six years. For 2017 alone, the government allocated 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product for infrastructure spending.
Martinez expressed hope that more infrastructure projects aimed at raising agricultural output will be earmarked soon.
Also among the earmarked infrastructure projects that could impact agriculture are ten water resource projects as well as irrigation systems and five flood control facilities.
“We need more than what is currently queued up for implementation,” the AGRI party-list officer said.
Martinez also said that including infrastructure for agriculture, alongside a cohesive and comprehensive agricultural framework, could fill the gaps that hobble the sector’s modernization.
He added that the planners and implementers of BBB should keep foremost in their minds that fisherfolk and farmers are two of the poorest sectors in the country.
“We should always keep in mind that poverty incidence for both these sectors are at about 34 percent. The BBB should target these specific sectors.”