I went to a nearby vegetable store this morning in Quezon City and was shocked to find out the seven items I bought—1 small cauliflower, 1 small broccoli, 2 medium sized carrots, 1 pc. red bell pepper, 1 pc. ampalaya and 1 pc. upo—amounted to P481. I was bewildered and had to ask the tindera, “Sure ka?” She handed me a small sheet of paper with the computation. Her math was correct.
Apparently, the prices of vegetables started soaring around December, after the typhoons devastated farms in many parts of the country.
PJ Haight, a farmer from Atok, Benguet, attributes the high prices of vegetables to Typhoon Ulysses, which hit the country in November. “Ang dami nyang sinirang gulay. Hindi pa nakaka-recover ang mga farmers hanggang ngayon,” he says.
He estimated that his team of 15 farmers were only able to save about 40% of the crops in the ten-hectare farm he’s managing. “Yung 60% nasira,” he sadly shares. Other veggies planted on their farm are radish, cabbage, wombok (or Chinese cabbage), potatoes, and celery.
Most affected among their crops, he says, were the potatoes, which are sensitive to extreme weather conditions (“nasira ang leaves niya ng bagyo, kaya hindi na lumaki”), Chinese cabbage, and radish. PJ sent me photos of their potato plants that were uprooted and left wilted by Typhoon Ulysses. “Yung ibang vegetables, two months old na nung dumating si Ulysses. Sinira niya ang 50%,” he says.
Blessing in disguise
Nevertheless, while they’ve been harvesting lesser crops now, they are able to sell the produce at a higher cost. They are also able to slowly recover their losses from the early months of the pandemic, when they almost had to give away all their produce as donation.
“Ngayon lang talaga pumalo ang presyo ng gulay ng ganito, na medyo tumagal,” he says, noting that the prices of vegetables doubled or even tripled over the past couple of months. One of the highest priced vegetables is the cabbage, which sold in their trading post yesterday at P110 per kilo.
The price monitoring sheet released by the Department of Agriculture yesterday indicates that the retail price of cabbage can go as low as P150 to as high as P220. Carrots can sell as high as P180, pechay (Baguio) at P180, potato at P150, tomato at P160, ampalaya at P200, eggplant at P200—per kilo. (Check prices of other commodities on this list)
“Noong mga nakaraang taon, sobrang mura ng presyo ng gulay. Kawawa ang mga farmers,” he says. “So ngayon lang kami medyo nakakabawi.”
But he says prices of vegetables will most likely go down by February or March, when the supply of produce goes up again on their next harvest.