LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol assure agriculture industry stakeholders that the national government will bankroll the put up of food terminals in areas surrounding the National Capital Region (NCR) in order for them to have a wider market for their vegetable produce.
During his visit here Thursday, the Secretary revealed that the planned food terminals will be built in Bulacan and Taguig to allow farmers to have greater access to potential markets and for them not to be converting in Metro Manila just to sell their produce.
“We have to continue finding ways on how to help our farmers market their produce in order to provide them sustainable sources of livelihood that will make a significant difference in improving the lives of their families in the countryside,” Piñol told hundreds of agriculture industry stakeholders who were gathered at the multi-million Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) to listen to the administration’s programs on the development of vegetable farming.
When the Divisoria market was closed by the Manila City Government for a massive cleanup, it was learned that vegetable traders lost around P10 million daily for more than a week considering that their buyers from NCR no longer placed their orders during the clean-up period.
Aside from putting up food terminals around Manila, the agriculture official said the government will continue providing adequate financial and technical support to the farmers in order for them to improve the quality of their produce that will allow highland vegetables to be traded in the international markets through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement.
In a random interview with farmers present during the consultations, most of them were supportive of the initiatives of the Duterte administration to address the need of those in the agriculture sector to help advance the growth of agriculture and make vegetable farming as a major economic driver n the region.
Benguet, some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao remain the sources of over 82 percent of the country’s supply of highland vegetables considering that semi-temperate vegetables thrive in the existing weather condition of most of the places in the region.
Piñol also assured agriculture industry stakeholders that he will be frequenting the different parts of the region in order to know the problems of the agriculture industry for the government to be able to extend the right assistance that will help the farmers boost their productivity and increase their access to high-end local and international markets for them to be able to earn sufficient income to sustain the living condition of their families.
According to him, it is important for the farmers to be united in airing their plight to the national government for them to have a stronger voice that will compel their leaders to immediately act on their concerns rather than be disorganized which will send the wrong signal to concerned authorities that they do not need immediate attention due to blatant differences.
Piñol believes that local farmers deserve utmost support from the government but they must also do their p[art by adhering to the standards of their produce in order to meet the quality being required by the local and international markets.