SARANGANI province has set a target of 100% access to upland areas within the next three years in order to support high-value crops like coffee and banana.

“We will finish opening the roads to the upland areas. The office of the President committed to help us open the roads up to the mountains,” Gov. Steve C. Solon said in an interview, noting that P2 billion has been allocated to the program.

High-value crop production and food processing are among the sectors considered the province’s priority investment areas.

“We have to open the uplands because those are productive areas,” said the governor, who won his reelection bid in the May 13 midterm polls, giving him another three-year term.

Currently, about 60% of the province’s roads going to and from the mountain areas are paved.

The province currently has a main road network of about 145 kilometers connecting its seven towns and providing a link to General Santos City, which has an airport and an international wharf.

Mr. Solon said paved roads to the mountains would also help the provincial and municipals governments deliver better services to the indigenous communities in these areas.

“It is the mission of the province of Sarangani to provide food security and increase the productivity of the marginalized farmers, particularly those in the upland areas,” he said.

Another priority project lined up is the establishment of a state college in Alabel, the provincial capital.

The governor said Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara has promised to help set up the Sarangani State College with funding from the national government. — Maya M. Padillo