January 30, 2023

The Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC), will buy vegetables from the Cordillera, which are delivered in different trading centers in Luzon but end up unsold because of restrictions on mobility.
The plan will be to make the BAPTC the “buyer of last resort,” said DA-Cordillera Executive Director Cameron Odsey.
On top of the source-buyer linkage DA has organized through the Kadiwa on Wheels, and financial assistance to farmers, Odsey said buying unsold vegetables is another of the agency’s responses to the problems encountered by farmers when unable to sell their products during the lockdown in Luzon.
During the enhanced community quarantine, tons of temperate vegetables were reported to have been disposed by farmers allegedly due to “oversupply.”
Odsey has clarified that lack of buyers, not oversupply, was the reason why prices of vegetables plummeted, which resulted in some farmers opting to give away the vegetables. Some chose to go back to their towns with trucks still full and decided to dump the vegetables on the field to be used as fertilizer.
Odsey said the “dumping” of the vegetables were what were circulated on social media and which raised concern about lack of food wastage.
To avoid similar incidents from happening again, the DA and the BAPTC is in the process of drafting a business plan they hope will be implemented by Sept. 1. Included in the plan are the buying and selling process of unsold vegetables, partnership with institutional buyers, and change in the management’s organizational setup.
DA Sec. William Dar visited the BAPTC last June and ordered the management to buy unsold vegetables to avoid their unnecessary disposal.
DA-Cordillera Technical Director Danilo Daguio said the initial plan for the BAPTC was solely supposed to be a trading area for vegetables from other regions and the Cordillera but with the installation of processing machines at the site, he said the BAPTC could start processing vegetables as well.
Funds to be used for the procurement will come from the BAPTC’s P26 million savings from income earned over the years.
Odsey said instead of dividing the savings among the offices that own the facility such as the DA, Benguet State University, Office of the Congressman, local government of La Trinidad, and Office of the Agriculture Secretary, the funds will be used to buy vegetables.
“At least happy ti farmer. Saan dan masapol nga iyawid manen diay harvest da,” BAPTC Chief Operating Officer Violeta Salda said.
Among buyers that BAPTC is planning to tie up with are hospitals, Kadiwa on Wheels, travelers, and institutions, such as the Philippine National Police.
Other vegetables will also be processed then sold. At present, BAPTC has a carrot and tomato processing center.
Salda said once the DA infuses more funds for the purchase of more processing equipment, BAPTC is planning to have a spices production area and a processing area for soups and beverages.
She said if the BAPTC maximizes its potential both as a trading and processing center, Benguet and other Cordillera provinces could also become suppliers of processed fruits and vegetables. – Rimaliza A. Opiña

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