LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel visited Benguet on Jan. 26 to check the situation of the vegetable industry and to dialogue with agriculture stakeholders in the Cordillera.
“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 stakeholders during a dialogue at the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center here.
He said the Marcos administration is committed to understand the real challenges faced by the vegetable industry particularly in the Cordillera, 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.
“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, which he said is among the thrusts of the President.
“You hear in the news about rice, onions, but I want you to know that the Department 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.
“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 are 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 the visit were his chief of staff Alvin John Balagbag, Asec. for Consumer Affairs Genevieve Guevarra, Asec. for Logistics Daniel Atayde, and DA Regional Director Jennilyn Dawayan. – Redjie Melvic Cawis