June 23, 2024

The advancement in transportation has made mobility of people and goods better and faster. And one of the industries that gained a lot from the ease in transportation is the vegetable industry of Benguet. But despite a more efficient transfer of goods from one place to another, some problems continue to persist – the lack of vehicles to keep perishable items such as vegetables fresh until these reach markets at strategic points anywhere in the country.
Take the recent incident where the city government of Manila rerouted vegetable and cutflower delivery trucks to give way to the city’s observance of the feast of the Sto. Niño. In behalf of truckers and vegetable traders of Benguet, Gov. Melchor Diclas had to ask Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to allow trading at Divisoria, as any delay in delivery could affect the freshness of their products.
Vegetable farmers from Benguet and neighboring Ifugao and Mountain Province suffer from huge losses every time there is a delay in transport of temperate vegetables due to circumstances such as rerouting and landslides.
For instance, prices of vegetables decreased or some were not sold when it reached markets in the National Capital Region and the Greater Manila Area because of the delay in transportation due to traffic jams during the Yuletide holidays.
A common factor in such occasions is the immense pressure that truckers and traders have to deal with everyday so as not to break the supply chain and ensure that at the end of the day, there is food on the table and the people in the vegetable industry get to earn their keep for the day.
With this situation, we ask, where now are the refrigerated vans bought during the term of former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap? Procurement of the said vehicles, along with cold storage facilities, was meant to maintain the freshness of harvest even on occasions where there is delay in delivery. It was also expected that after the initial procurement, more will be bought to cater to the large volume of products delivered daily. Thereafter, the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center was built as part of the holistic, integrated approach of processing and delivery of food from farm to the table.
Many years have passed yet majority of the agricultural produce in the highlands are still transported the conventional way – subject to changes in temperature, traffic, and at the mercy of policies of other local governments.
Stakeholders in the agriculture industry should no longer allow that changes in policies and situations adversely affect a vital component of the food chain. As transportation is advancing, so should the delivery of basic necessities such as food.
We also hope that the proposal for the put-up of more bagsakan markets will address the problem of fresh produce going to waste.
At the same time, the public deserves to be informed where the refrigerated vans and other cold storage facilities are now. It is their taxes, after all, that was used for the purchase of those facilities.