February 6, 2023

The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and lockdown drills in some areas have disrupted the normal flow and trading of vegetable produce from the Cordillera to their usual market destinations in the country.
Under the ECQ, trucks delivering food products are held up in border checkpoints. For instance, in Masbate, perishable vegetable products from the Cordillera were held up for 12 hours until after a knowledgeable official from the Department of the Interior and Local Government intervened and advised those at the ECQ border checkpoints to let food products flow unhampered.
Immediately after the declaration of the ECQ by President Rodrigo Duterte, Department of Agriculture Sec. William Dar appealed to all partners in the agriculture sector and responsible officials to keep food products, supplies, and inputs flowing unimpeded.
He has met with the Cabinet officials concerned and through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and issued appropriate memorandums and circulars to ensure and facilitate the implementation of the directives.
In support to Dar’s appeal to ensure the availability and affordability of food, the DA-Cordillera coordinated with farmers and truckers and suppliers (viajeros) to continue supplying highland vegetables to Metro Manila and other regions in Luzon and Visayas.
They were given food passes that enables them to be prioritized in the designated cargo lanes of the Philippine National Police in quarantine checkpoints.
The DA food pass allow the transport of agriculture and fisheries inputs and food products through all forms of conveyances and modes to their destinations.
From the daily monitoring of “vegetable in-flow and out-flow” from various trading posts in La Trinidad, Benguet by the DA-Cordillera from March 18 to 24, an average of 396 farmers deliver their produce to buyers who eventually transport these to the various markets in the lowlands.
Since March 18, farmers were able to deliver 8,911.834 metric tons (MT) of assorted highland vegetables.
Of the total volume delivered, a daily average of 8,180MT or 81.8 percent is bought by traders and suppliers who bring these to various destinations particularly in the National Capital Region and other urban areas.
The produce not traded on the day of delivery are added to the next day’s trading volume.
An average of 80 truckers or traders buy highland vegetables and transport these to their territories.
The DA-Cordillera continues to assist farmers, farm workers, and all agricultural workers by facilitating the issuance of food passes to all eligible suppliers and truckers.
DA-Cordillera OIC-Regional Executive Director Cameron P. Odsey said that the agency is also collaborating with the City of Baguio and the Department of Trade Industry for the set up of rolling stores, which will start in April in Baguio. – Janice B. Agrifino