DA-CAR challenges farmers to produce export quality vegetables

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet  – The first batch of the highland vegetables investment forum cum buyers-sellers meeting was conducted at the BAPTC Hall, Strawberry Fields, La Trinidad, Benguet on May 25, 2017.

Institutional buyers, partner companies and farmers from Buguias, Bakun, Mankayan and Kibungan, Benguet; Tinoc, Ifugao and Sabangan, Mountain Province were invited to participate in the forum.

This event is an undertaking of DA-CAR through its marketing arm, Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) in coordination with the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) to improve the production and marketing of highland vegetables in the region.

Florena Pedro, Marketing Specialist of AMAD stressed the importance of improving highland vegetables in terms of quality, safety, and sustainability. “With the ASEAN integration, our products must compete with those produced by other countries so we will not be left behind,” she added.

As a way of achieving this, Inocencio Bernard from the Benguet  Office of the Provincial Agriculturist talked on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).  He challenged the farmers with current data on GAP certification showing that Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries have granted GAP certification to thousands of their farmers but the Philippines only has 78 GAP certified farms. Out of the 78, only 4 farms are from Cordillera.

On the other hand, institutional buyers presented their proposals on how they can help the highland vegetable farmers in terms of trading and marketing with their linkages to other potential markets that can cater highland vegetables including strawberries.

Desiree Duran, GAP practitioner and owner of the Duran Farms in Bulacan also encouraged the participants to go for GAP certification if they want to reach bigger markets. She shared her testimony on how she leaped from a mere farmer-producer to an Agri-preneur . “Wala na kami sa poorest among the poor dahil sa tulong ng DA-AMAD and because our mindset is dapat tayo ay kumita sa ating lupa at produkto through GAP certification,” she said.

Partner companies who were invited to the forum also had the chance to present their products including seeds, packaging materials, and other services they offer to the farmers.

The forum wrapped up with a word of assurance from BAPTC that it will help the farmers in whatever assistance it can to help the farmers as individuals or groups.

The second batch of the highland vegetables investment forum cum buyers-sellers meeting will be on June 22, 2017, which will include farmers from the remaining parts of Benguet, Tadian and Bauko, Mountain Province.

By Rebecca P. Dibdiben

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