BANGUED, Abra – The timely completion of the upgrading of inter-municipal, inter-regional and inter-regional roads in the country will make the chances of Philippine products to be competitive in the international markets during the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration next year, Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin said here.
Bersamin cited the Aquino administration for prioritizing the rehabilitation and upgrading of national roads and secondary national arterial roads that will greatly help in significantly reducing the transportation cost and inflicting more damages to our agricultural products before reaching the desired markets.
“There is no doubt on the quality of our agricultural crops being produced by our farmers in the countryside but what contributes to the downgrading of their quality is the damage inflicted by the bad condition of our major road networks,” Bersamin stressed.
Aside from completing the rehabilitation and upgrading of the country’s major road systems, the governor pointed out government must also significantly invest on the proper packaging of our local products so that they will be able to get the attention of foreign buyers once sold side by side with other foreign products.
“Our producers must also be taught proper packaging techniques right from the farms in order to prevent the crops from sustaining significant damages while being transported to the nearest markets because the overall appearance of the agricultural crops are being considered by wholesale buyers,” Bersamin said.
He claimed local agricultural products like fresh fruits and vegetables are far better than those similar products produced by other countries because they are much fresher, juicer, sturdier and with less chemicals unlike those which come from other countries which are laced with chemicals in order to allow them to last during the long transport period.
Dr. Julius Sicat, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR), agreed with Bersamin’s observation, saying that his agency has the sufficient technology to address the packaging and processing concerns of agriculture industry stakeholders to further improve the quality and packaging of their produce.
“We are downloading our available technologies to the farmers and producers who want to avail of their desired processing and packaging technologies for the benefit of better quality products that will compete in the international markets,” Sicat said.
He explained even Cordillera heirloom rice varieties are of good quality but efforts are now being done by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) based in Nueva Ecija to further improve their quality and to make it one of the most in demand rice varieties once the ASEAN free trade will be implemented.
Sicat called on agriculture industry stakeholders not to be threatened by the expected influx of goods and services from the 10-member nations because Philippine products will not be left behind but will also excel in the international markets considering that the free trade is part of the overall globalization policy which is now in place worldwide.