June 17, 2024

An agreement between the province of Benguet and Quezon City that will boost the sale of temperate vegetables is currently being finalized to ease the plight of farmers.
Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, in a statement, said Quezon City through Mayor Joy Belmonte will  directly buy vegetables and other produce from the farmers for the city’s relief operations and feeding program. 
Yap said he and Belmonte had talks last weekend on the agreement where the city government will regularly purchase vegetables and other local products from Benguet for their needs.
“They will also launch a fresh market during weekends this summer season, free ang rent ng space natin, walang babayaran iyong farmers and may free living quarters din for them, “ Yap said.
Aside from Quezon City, Yap’s office in coordination with the provincial governor’s office are eyeing agreements to be forged with other major cities in the country for Benguet farmers to market their produce.  
The program was welcomed by Belmonte citing the mutual benefits that the LGUs will gain especially in helping the Benguet vegetable industry as well as the local businesses in Quezon City.
Yap said the establishment of linkages will be some of the programs in the pipeline to help Benguet farmers who are still feeling the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and smuggled vegetables that compete with their produce in the local markets.     
Earlier, Yap said there is a need to continue coordinating with the Bureau of Customs in its anti-smuggling operations particularly on agriculture products.
He said those apprehended should be followed up until they are charged for economic sabotage for violation of Republic Act 10845 or the large-scale smuggling of agricultural products. 
Meanwhile, the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post recently met with officials of Bureau of Plant Industry and the Department of Agriculture regarding smuggling where the group presented pieces of evidence on the non-stop smuggling of vegetables.
The dialogue was an offshoot of the meeting of the group with Sen. Kiko Pangilinan who wrote the DA to discuss the farmers and traders’ plight.
The group said it will continue to coordinate with the agencies and get the attention of Malacañang to put a stop to the perennial problem of vegetable smuggling. – Ofelia C. Empian