LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Five big corporations are reportedly setting their sights to manage the multi-million Benguet Agri Pinoy trading Center to maximize its potentials as the biggest trading facility in the north.
However, BAPTC operations manager Dr. Violeta Salda claimed that the members of the project steering committee (PSC) which was created to supervise the operation of the facility is not yet inclined to entertain the proposals considering that the takeover will eventually defeat the put up of the trading center that is supposedly for the farmers if they are well organized.
“The farmers should seriously take into consideration their being federated so that the federated group will be the one to manage and operate the trading center instead of being taken over by a corporation,” Dr. Salda stressed.
The BAPTC operations manager underscored that the put up of the facility was purposely for the greater interest of the farmers who stand to benefit from its existence but the problem is that the farmers refuse to get their acts together and federate so that the management of the facility will be turned over to them pursuant to the concept of the project.
She claimed contrary to rumors that the trading in the facility is already filled up, trading only happens in the morning, thus, trading in the afternoon is still available considering that the overall plan is to make vegetable trading on a 24-hour basis in the center.
Currently, there are 270 associations composed of over 36,000 individuals are transacting business in the center to date but efforts are still being done by the BAPTC management to entice more groups and individuals to trade their products in the facility to increase the round-the-clock activities.
According to her, the operation of the facility continue to be put in place by the management but what is needed is for the active participation of the vegetable farmers who should bring their products to the facility and avail of the added services provided for them.
Salda urged the farmers to set aside their interests and federate themselves for them to fully avail of the benefits of having to manage and operate the facility that was put up by the government for them considering the importance of the province’s vegetable industry to the country’s food security as Benguet and some parts of Ifugao and Mountain Province serve as the major source of at least 80 percent of the supply of highland vegetables being distributed in the different parts of the country.
The government spent over P800 million during the previous administration to construct the trading center in a 4-hectare property owned by the State-run Benguet State University (BSU).
For the past several years, the vegetable trading center did not serve its purpose because of the refusal of the farmers and traders to use the facility that was intended to uplift the growth and development of the province’s vegetable industry, a major economic driver of Benguet.
Salda remains optimistic that the farmers will be able to federate themselves in the future so that the operation and management of the facility will be turned over to them.