April 20, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

Not only carrots, but all kinds of vegetables, are being donated by farmers and traders instead of dumping or leaving these to rot on the road back home.

Clemencia Lapas, Inter LGUs Cooperation Outreach Relief Assistance coordinator at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center, said vegetables donated or given for free are not only exclusive to carrots, but also other kinds of produce delivered to trading areas, especially at a time when prices are low and only few buyers are available.

The donation of unsold carrots in late December last year is only one of the daily occurrences where producers chose to give away their unsold harvest.

Lapas said since the pandemic hit in 2020, vegetable donation became more regular, but aside from the farmers and traders engaging in the initiative, partners, such as the Philippine National Police, have been tapped to help.

Since then, Lapas said local PNP offices have been helping in the hauling and distribution by offering their vehicles to transport unsold vegetables to intended beneficiaries.

Coordination was also done with barangays in Baguio City where the vegetables are delivered for distribution to the residents.

“Since then, hauling of unsold vegetables for donation has become a more regular activity,” Lapas said.

Not that this is new for the farmers, because this risk has become part of their reality; but Lapas said the only difference now is there are partners that help deliver the unsold commodities to whoever needs them.

Just after the New Year, she said they hauled almost 500 kilos of unsold broccoli, one of the high-value crops, from the trading areas and distri-buted these for free.

“Last night, (Jan. 4), we again hauled almost 600 kilos of broccoli and several kilos of cabbage and radish in coordination with Camp Dangwa (Police Regional Office-Cordillera) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” Lapas said.

Days before the New Year, farmers also gave for free carrots that were unsold to residents and tourists at Burnham Park, Baguio City.

The vegetables, which were sold at P10 to P15 per kilo in private trading areas in La Trinidad, Benguet on Dec. 28, 2023, were delivered to Baguio City to be given for free.

The donation was prompted by the low prices of carrots because there were only a few buyers from Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

Lapas said at the time, eight stations of the Baguio City Police Office were tapped to haul the unsold 10,000 kilos of carrots for distribution in the city.

At any given time, farmers face the risk of having their produce unsold because of the volatility of supply and demand.

Vegetable prices usually drop after Christmas and New Year, and go up when demand increases for the Chinese New Year celebration, according to Lapas.

On some occassions, vegetables that have deteriorated, but are still fit for consumption, are also donated.

Lapas added the volume of vegetables being hauled daily for donation is only a portion of the unsold commodities because some farmers still bring their produce back home.

Others, however, have become more open to the idea that instead of bringing back the vegetables to their farms or dumping these along the road, they leave their unsold goods for a noble cause – to be donated to non-vegetable producing areas.

Lapas, who organized the vegetable donation drives at the height of the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the initiative has since reached out to beneficiaries in other part of the Cordillera, such as Abra and in the Ilocos region, such as La Union and Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur.