April 13, 2024

The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera lauded Benguet farmers for their efforts in producing safe vegetables by being certified in good agricultural practices.

DA-Cordillera Officer-in-Charge Jennilyn Dawayan, during the opening of the Benguet Adivay Agri-Trade Fair, said the province of Benguet has the highest number of GAP-certified farmers in the Cordillera at 344. 

She said prior to the country’s introduction of organic agriculture, the GAP certification was first introduced as a means for food safety.

But she said the aim then was to produce safe produce for export, as it was a requirement for institutional partners abroad.

“Let’s change the narrative from doing GAP for export to the safety of us who will eat it and ensure the health of farmers,” Dawayan said.

She said the province plays a crucial role in the supply of agricultural products in the country, including semi-temperate vegetables and being a top producer of strawberries.

Dawayan added the province produces 17 heirloom rice varieties, which are uniquely from Benguet. It is also a known producer of top-rated Arabica coffee beans and where quality cutflowers are coming from.  

She said the best way to combat the pervading issues of smuggling is for the farmers to continue its dedication in employing GAP in their farming practices.

She said the local vegetable produce still has the best and fresh quality over any smuggled vegetables in the market.

Dawayan also thanked the municipal government units in playing a key role in having their respective farmers GAP-certified. 

As for the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the department is still studying and understanding it.

The Senate approved on Feb. 21 the resolution concurring with the country’s ratification of the RCEP in Sept. 21. The implementing rules and regulations were passed on April 4 and officially took effect on June 2 despite outcry from farmers and fisherfolk. 

The RCEP is seen to allow a better flow of trade and lower to zero tariffs on some commodities being traded among the 15 participating countries – the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states and tra-ding partners China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

“We are trying to understand it to elaborate on it with our stakeholders. The RCEP and importation is highly technical, so we are looking into the policy and its effect on us,” she said.

She said a consultation will be conducted by January 2024, which will include all the stakeholders in the region together with the national government. – Ofelia C. Empian