December 8, 2023

More alternative markets are being eyed to help out Benguet farmers dispose their vegetable produce.
Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas said they are coordinating with the Department of Agriculture about their plans of putting up additional trade centers especially near Metro Manila, aside from the usual wet markets particularly in Divisoria.
Diclas said the Divisoria market is still the largest market of highland vegetables being produced by Benguet farmers and other neighboring towns in the Cordillera.  
He said the closure of Divisoria even for one day greatly affects farmers and traders.
“That’s the help we are asking from DA, through Secretary William Dar. DA officials  said we’ll be increasing bagsakan centers as additional markets for our vegetables,” Diclas said.
Earlier, Diclas along with the personnel of the La Trinidad Mayor’s office and traders personally met with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno regarding his order prohibiting the entry of vegetable trucks going to Divisoria to make way for the Feast of Sto. Niño from Jan. 17 to 19.  
Moreno has assured the officials and the farmers that the trading of vegetables would still continue in the area and that vegetable vendors  could still sell at Santo Cristo, Carmen Planas, El Cano and a portion of Padre Rada streets (Tondo side).
Hi-Land Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative manager Augusta Balanoy said the truckers and the buyers would also communicate with each other as to where to unload and load the vegetable produce around the area. 
Balanoy, whose group is a member of the League of Associations at La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area, Inc., said the volume of vegetables being brought to Divisoria is from 600 tons to 700 tons a day, making it the largest market for highland vegetables. 
“We estimate that around P36 million worth of vegetables will not be sold if Divisoria closed for three days,” she said adding there are markets outside of the area but the volume is not as high as those being delivered in the Divisoria.
This is also acknowledged by Truckers and Traders Association Grievance Committee Chair Rudy Bulawan.
Meanwhile, Diclas said aside from the alternative markets, they have also discussed with the DA the creation of post-harvest facilities that could process vegetables especially during seasons with oversupply.
He said they are working it out with Benguet State University as the proponent for the creation of processing facilities for highland vegetables. – Ofelia C. Empian