(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) and four other agencies are set to sign a joint administrative order (JAO) that will set up guidelines to make farm-to-market road (FMRs) interconnected with other infrastructure projects.

The JAO will be signed among officials of the DA, Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Trade and Industry (DTI) and Tourism (DOT) this month.

“FMR approved na. Mayroon na tayong national timetable (The FMR is approved. We already have a national timetable),” Marcos, who also heads the DA, made this announcement in a video released by Malacañang to reporters.

“Lahat ng agencies that are involved, departments that are involved will be signing… by December, before the end of the year, para ma-approve na ang plano para sa pag-construct ng FMR (All agencies and departments involved will be signing it by December to approve the plan to construct FMRs),” he added.

DA and DPWH, in particular, earlier formulated a regional FMR network overlaying the proposed FMR projects with the Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zone (SAFDZ)/Network of Protected Areas for Agriculture and Agro-Industrial Development (NPAAAD) and production areas.

The two agencies have also spearheaded an inter-agency workshop on locating and mapping agriculture and fisheries production areas, markets, trading posts, existing road networks and road conditions and the proposed FMRs.

A total of 43,223 kilometers is proposed for FMR projects as of October this year.

There is a requirement of 131,410 kms (110ha/km) of the country to cater to the 14 million hectares of production areas for agriculture and fisheries.

As of October this year, a total of 67,255-km FMR were completed, leaving a backlog of 64,155 kms.

Meanwhile, Marocs said the government is trying to find import substitution for urea and petroleum-based fertilizer.

“But we are looking at all the technologies available, including biofertilizer perhaps as an import substitute,” he said.

Last July, Marcos directed the DA to come up with a FMR masterplan that will serve as a guide for the government to promote food security and empower rural communities.

He said FMRs are the “first step” to solving some of the country’s supply chain problems.

Marcos underscored the importance of ensuring that agricultural infrastructure is “climate-change resistant” such as projects that are not prone to landslides and other calamities. (PNA)