June 23, 2024

Better food handling would ensure better quality and longer shelf-life of highland vegetables, according to the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Executive Director Cameron Odsey.

Odsey added the saleability of vegetables is also highly dependent on their quality. 

The DA-Cordillera official’s statement came following a post on social media of a farmer from Kabayan, Benguet, who sold his carrot produce for only P10 a kilo just to cover up for his fuel expenses. The post stirred netizens triggering fears of oversupply.

But based on DA investigation, farmer brought his two truckloads of carrots to the La Trinidad trading post on May 26. One truckload was sold while the other, which had a variety of sizes of carrots, was partially sold.

Around 1,000 kilos of the carrots were left unsold on May 28 because they are of poor quality.

DA has learned it was the farmer’s cousin, who thought of posting the unsold carrots on Facebook with relatively cheaper price to quickly sell the remaining carrots. Through this, the unsold carrots were sold, mostly bought by the police personnel. 

“Most of the buyers, especially from Manila would go for quality because that is what any consumer wants,” Odsey said.

He said the common practice of most farmers is to bring the freshly harvested carrots, without cleaning them, to the trading post for it to be washed then packed to the buyers.

But the cleaning process is somewhat harsh, as the cleaners would brush the carrots with the hard plastics or abrasives that removes the skin of the vegetable. Once the skin is not intact, it is more prone to bacteria.

Odsey said the rinsing water should also be clean and that the carrots should be packed dry for it to have longer shelf-life.

DA-Cordillera has been engaging with farmer organizations and cooperatives to be involved in the agency’s trainings and programs on post-harvest practices through its training-arm, the Agricultural Training Institute-Cordillera.

Based on DA-Cordillera’s monitoring of trading centers in Benguet, around 200 to 250 metric tons of carrots are being traded per day while around 2,000 metric tons of assorted vegetables are being shipped outside of the province daily. – Ofelia C. Empian