ITOGON, Benguet – Rep. Eric Yap wants the Bureau of Customs to include the duly authorized representatives of concerned agriculture industry stakeholders from the province in the conduct of the bureau’s anti-vegetable smuggling operations to help curb the illegal entry of imported agricultural crops in the country that directly compete with locally-produced ones.
Yap, who had been dragged in issue of smuggling of agricultural crops in the country in the past administration, claimed he made the appropriate representations with the BOC and the agriculture department to always include the duly authorized representatives of concerned agriculture stakeholders in the province in their anti-smuggling operations to show the government’s firm commitment to abate the illegal entry of vegetables that directly compete with locally produced ones causing the significant drop in income of farmers.
Yap’s decision to make the necessary representations for the local agriculture industry stakeholders to the BOC and agriculture department is part of a holistic approach that will help in containing the unabated entry of smuggled agricultural crops which is not helping the overall development of the country’s agriculture sector but instead, is slowly killing the said sector.
The lawmaker pointed out that by partnering with the local agriculture sector, the BOC and the agriculture department can get inputs from the ground on the malpractices of importers who unscrupulously ship into the country smuggled vegetables that often flood the markets even if these are not of the same quality as the ones produced in the agriculture-producing areas around the archipelago.
Earlier, Yap and Davao City 1st District Rep. Paulo Duterte filed a house bill seeking for the conduct of a congressional inquiry on the unabated entry of smuggled vegetables in the country.
According to the congressman, this bill was already referred by the House to a committee awaiting for its scheduled hearing so that concerned agriculture industry stakeholders from Benguet can raise their issues and concerns to the officials of various government agencies allegedly involved in the matter for them to immediately act upon these issues to prevent the eventual death of the local vegetable industry.
Despite the recent issues on the unabated entry of smuggled vegetables into the country through the various ports, Benguet still remains the producer of more than 80 percent of semi-temperate vegetables being sold in the different markets around the archipelago. Vegetable farming is the major source of livelihood of hundreds of thousands of residents based in the 13 vegetable-producing towns in the province.
Aside from pushing for the congressional inquiry and for the BOC and the agriculture department to allow representatives of concerned agriculture stakeholders to actively participate in anti-smuggling operations, Yap assured he will also work for the provisions of funds for the development of the province’s inter-municipal, inter-provincial and inter-regional road networks to improve the access of the farmers to the markets and increase their income through least possible and higher buying prices for their produce.