Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel visited Benguet on Jan. 26 to personally check the situation of the vegetable industry, and to dialogue with agriculture stakeholders in the Cordillera region. “Ang pagbalik ko dito ay
napaka-importante, dahil kailangan ng buong DA na mapag-aralang mabuti at makinig sa mga stakeholders lalo na sa mga farmer cooperatives associations, mga truckers, facilitators, traders, pati ang ating mga agricultural extension
workers,[My coming here is very important because the whole DA has to know well and listen to the stakeholders
especially the farmer cooperative associations, the truckers, facilitators, traders including the agricultural extension workers]” Tiu Laurel told the various stakeholders during a dialogue at the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center in La Trinidad, Benguet.

He said the Marcos administration is committed to understand the real challenges faced by the vegetable industry
particularly in CAR, which is the source of majority of high-value crops in the country. He said the primary goal is to align strategies that reduce the overall cost burden on farmers while maintaining or increasing their income. “While may idea ako kung ano ang dapat gawin para mapababa ang overall cost ng produkto, pero hindi dapat mabawasan ang kita ng bawat sector. Kung pwede pang mapataas ang kita ng farmer yun ang ating target. Mapababa ang overall cost pero ma-maintain or mapataas pa ang kita ng farmer. Yun ang dapat na pag-isipan nating mabuti at pagtulungtulungan para maging happy naman ang farmer at ang consumer,[I have some idea on what should be done to lower the overall cost of the products, but the income of each sector should not decrease.

Lower the overall cost, but maintain or increase the income of farmers. We should think seriously about this, let us help each other so that the farmers, and consumers will be happy]” the Secretary said. Tiu Laurel stressed his
commitment to support and improve the high value crops particularly the highland vegetables which will eventually improve the lives of the farmers and the other stakeholders in the Cordillera region, which he said is among the thrusts of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. under the “Bagong Pilipinas” campaign. “Naririnig nyo naman sa news na napag uusapan ang bigas, napag uusapan ang onions, pero gusto ko lang malaman ninyo na hindi kayo nakakalimutan ng Department of Agriculture.

Mga cabbage, potato, carrots, lahat yan importante, lahat yan ay prioridad ng gobyerno kaya dinala ko ang buong team namin dito na kasama sa national office para makatulong at pagisipan itong current situation natin, and let us see how we can improve it,[You hear in the news about rice, onions, but I want you to know that theDepartment of Agriculture did not forget you. Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, all these are important, all of these are priorities of the government that is why I brought here with me the whole team including from the national office so that we help one another and look into the current situation, and let us see how we can improve it] “ Tiu Laurel said.

“Ang konsultasyon na ito ay para magkaroon tayo ng polisiya na gusto ninyo, gusto natin sa pamahalaan para achieve natin ang “Bagong Pilipinas” ng ating Pangulong Marcos, bagong direksyon, bagong thrust para mapaganda ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,[This consultation is for us to come up with policies that you want, that we want in the government so that we can achieve “Bagong Pilipinas” of Pres. Marcos- new direction, new thrust to improve the life of every Filipino] “ he added. Among the issues and concerns raised by the agricultural stakeholders include the priority funding of agricultural and fisheries development programs from the national government and the local government units; prioritization of highland vegetables and be among the banner programs of DA separate from the high value commercial crops, and provision of more facilities such as agricultural trading centers, post-harvest and
cold storage in other provinces in the Cordillera.

The stakeholders also raised the issue on the increasing prices of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides including the oil prices, and the possibility of subsidy from DA; the recognition of food lanes of the various local government units particularly in Region 3 and Metro Manila areas, the presence of policemen and traffic enforcers who prey on vegetable delivery trucks, and vegetable smuggling. The Secretary vowed to look into the various issues raised and will coordinate with the various cabinet members and other political leaders in addressing said problems. He also inspected the different facilities at the BAPTC including the trading areas, the processing and packaging facility, and the cold storage facility. Accompanying the secretary in this visit were his chief of staff Alvin John Balagbag, assistant secretary for Consumer Affairs Genevieve Guevarra, Asec. for Logistics Daniel Atayde, and DACordillera regional director Jennilyn Dawayan.


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