The then hard-to-reach far-flung areas in Maasim, Sarangani Province characterized by their rough terrain are now accessible, thanks to the concreting of the 13km farm-to-market road spanning the barangays of Bales, Amsipit and Kablacan. The road construction is a Php58.4 million joint project of the Provincial Engineers Office of the Sarangani Provincial Local Government and Sarangani District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways – Sarangani.
Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian-Solon inspected the road construction last 26 June 2020 and remembered his last visit in the area in 2010 when he was still the Vice Governor. He recalled that he was with former Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, and they both dreamt of an access road in the areas. “Now, that dream has come true,” he gladly said.
The Government infrastructure investment is bolstered with the agriculture support of private organizations, an essential public-private partnership expected to turn the livelihood of the subsistence farmers in the area.
On the same day, Gov. Solon also visited the Competence Center constructed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) and Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. (CLAFI) for the farmers in Sitio Datal Basak in y Kablacan, Maasim, Sarangani Province. The Competence Center houses the two (2) abaca spindle stripping machines donated by the USAID through CLAFI for the abaca farmers in the sitio.
The farm-to-market road and stripping machine are seen to ultimately increase income of upland farmers with the increased abaca production and mobility of farmers to ng their produce to the market.
With the provision of the portable machines, “abaca production is expected to increase by 20 times than stripping by hand and help boost the livelihood of Tboli communities, especially in times of quarantine restrictions brought by the current health crisis brought by COVID 19,” said USAID.
USAID added that the “mechanized production also greatly improves the quality of abaca fiber and increases its volume by up to 72 percent, helping farmers to command a better price in the market. These improvements can help abaca farmers in Sarangani to respond to the growing demand for abaca fiber.”
To further assist in the increase of abaca production, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) trains the abaca farmers the proper use of the stripping machines along with tips on effective abaca production and management in a 24-week Climate Smart Field School (CSFS) on Abaca Production in partnership with USAID and CLAFI.
Similar abaca spindle stripping machine was also provided to abaca farmers of Holic Farmers Association and Moto Ladal Farmers Association in Brgy. Nomoh, Maasim. These farmers are also participants of the CSFS.
Abaca growing is a component of the Watershed and Forest Protection Project of Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC), abaca being considered a forest commodity because of its ability to propagate itself through suckering of shoots from the roots.
In its 3-year Watershed and Forest Protection Project, SEC reforests 700 hectares of denuded forest of the Siguil and Kablacan watersheds in Maasim, Sarangani Province with endemic and exotic fruit and forest trees.