Benguet farmers forced to throw away vegetables amid low prices, oversupply

Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2019 10:40 PM

A farmer throws away a truckload of unsold carrots in Benguet. Ronebert Anungo Lindawan

BAGUIO CITY - Farmers in Benguet province were forced to throw away tons of vegetables they harvested last week as prices sank in markets and trading posts amid oversupply. 

Agot Balanoy, Benguet Farmer's Marketing Cooperative's general manager said there was an oversupply of vegetables as crops that were supposed to have been harvested weeks earlier were harvested only in the last few days. 

Balanoy blamed the weather for the delay in the harvests. 

"One month na monsoon yun tapos may malakas na typhoon, dahil dun naantala yung harvest nila (One month of monsoon rains and then a strong typhoon, because of this farmers' harvests were delayed)," Balanoy said. 

"Yung mga na-harvest kasi ngayon supposedly nung December pa, which is peak season. Eh hindi umabot because of the destruction kaya ngayon lang na sabay-sabay sila nakapag-harvest."

(The [vegetables] harvested today were supposed to have been harvested last December, which was the peak season. But that didn't happen because of the destruction [caused by the weather] so everyone is harvesting today.)

There was an oversupply of produce from January 1 to 7. 

Some vegetables like carrots were sold at P1 to P7 per kilo, while potatoes were sold for P15 per kilo. Normally, these should have been sold at P15 to P50 per kilo.

Produce that weren't sold were thrown away. Farmers said they have suffered huge losses because of the low prices.

"Yung production cost namin hindi na mababawi. Uutang na naman kami para lang may pangtanim ulit (We can't recover our production cost. We will have to borrow money just to be able to plant again)," said vegetable farmer Marion Kimaw.

The supply of vegetables returned to normal on Tuesday as farmers stopped harvesting, Balanoy said.

He appealed to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to monitor the farmers' situation and provide immediate assistance to those who were affected. by the oversupply.

"Di namin alam if minomonitor talaga ng DA yung nangyayari dito. Pero mahirap na uutang nanaman yung mga farmers."

(We don't know it the DA is really monitoring the situation here. But it's hard because farmers will need to borrow money again.)

The DA meanwhile said it is ready to provide cash assistance if needed. The agency also said it held a dialogue with the farmers association about organizing and coordinating with each other so that harvests are properly timed.

"Yung crop programming is kahit 1 week or days ang pagitan ng pagtatanim para hindi sila sabay-sabay na magha-harvest at di magka-oversupply, walang masasayang," said DA Cordillera information officer Robert Domogen.