By Ben Cal
For decades, farmers from the Mandaya tribe, one of the oldest ethnic groups in eastern Mindanao, had to walk for two hours through 3.5 kilometers of rugged trail to market their agricultural products in Compostela town in Compostela Valley because there was no road to speak of.
Today, Mandaya tribes men and women are all smiles as they transport their vegetables aboard vehicles, thanks to the newly-finished road constructed through the PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program of the government.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which oversees the PAMANA program, said on Sunday the new farm-to-market road stretches from Purok 2 to Purok 4 in Barangay Panansalan, Compostela town.
Oliver Binancilan, area manager of the eastern side of Mindanao, said the road project covers the Davao-Compostela Valley-Caraga zone of the PAMANA program.
In a simple turnover ceremony, Binancilan assured the project beneficiaries that through PAMANA, “the government is here to help them reach their aspirations and strengthen their community.”
PAMANA is the national government’s peace building program and framework.
Binancilan said the farm-to-market road is expected to boost trade for the ethnic group.
In due time, it will be extended to cover Purok 1 so that the Mandaya farmers can also take advantage of faster and cheaper transportation for their produce, he added.
Mandaya tribesmen are found in the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Cotabato. They are engaged in farming, fishing and hunting.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit representative Naomi Lamata said that “PAMANA’s road project speed up the completion of Upland Development Projects (UDP).”
UDP projects include upland rice production with sprayer and inputs; vegetable, peanut and mongo production; agri-water system, goat raising, vermin-composting, mini-warehouse, and corn sealing machine.