Press Statement on the reported disposal of vegetables by farmers due to low prices

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It was reported that carrots and Chinese cabbage that were brought to La Trinidad on March 23, 2020 (Monday) were returned by farmers to their farms unsold and disposed as fertilizers because of very low prices.

Based on the price monitoring at the Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Center (BAPTC), the prices of these two commodities were abnormally low on Monday, however, it normalized on the succeeding days until today.

On March 23, the wholesale price of Chinese cabbage ranged from five (5) to eight (8) pesos per kilo, which was abnormally low, but eventually normalized to 15-20, 15-18 and 10-15 on the succeeding days.

Similarly, for carrots, the price was 1-8 on March 23, 2020 but increased to 10-17; 8-30 and 20-25 the next succeeding days.

The prices on that day were therefore unusual rather than the norm and most farmers were able to sell their produce at higher prices the following days.

The DA has been responding to situations such as this in several ways. We have been assisting small vegetable coops and associations transport their vegetables to their buyers in Metro-Manila to reduce their transport cost.

Just yesterday, we have transported 10 tons of vegetables of a farmers’ group in Tublay, Benguet to Quezon City. This was in coordination with the Municipal Government of Tublay, Benguet.

Pursuant to DA Secretary William Dar’s directive under these trying situations, trucks from the DA are used to assist small farmers groups in this regard.

We continue to arrange for the transport of vegetables from various farmers groups in Benguet to DA organized Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita stores in Metro-Manila. These are venues organized in strategic sites that sell agricultural commodities from the provinces at cheaper prices as middle men are not involved. This will be done as the Kadiwas are organized in various sites in the metropolis and are scheduled on a regular basis.

In cooperation with the City of Baguio and the Department of Trade and Industry, the DA is arranging for vegetables from Benguet be incorporated in Kadiwa Rolling stores being organized that will sell grocery items and farm products in all barangays of the City.

This will start next week and will be regularly conducted, it is expected that a large volume of vegetables will be sold this way.

The various LGUs of Benguet have also started to procure vegetables for their constituents, especially for non-vegetable producing municipalities. They are encouraged to continue do this.

We also continue to exert all efforts to issue Food Passes to truckers who transport agricultural produce so that they can pass unhampered in all enhanced community quarantine check points. This is critical to ensure the smooth and fast passage of food items like vegetables to Metro-Manila and other urban centers.

Since we started last week we have been able to issue 1,300 passes as of today. This has facilitated the transport of 8,180 metric tons of assorted vegetables from Benguet to Metro-Manila and other provinces from March 18, 2020 until today.

We would like also to appeal to our LGU partners to kindly follow the ECQ guidelines so as not to impede the smooth flow of farm and food products to the markets and consumers.

We will continue to exert all efforts to minimize the losses incurred by our farmers and bring cheaper vegetables to Metro-Manila and other areas even as we wait for the abnormal situation to normalize due to COVID- 19 pandemic.