LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala cited locally-grown vegetables have bright prospects of invading the high-end and global markets once the one-stop processing, packaging and marketing Agri-Pinoy Trading Center will be operational in order to put added value on the agricultural crops.
Alcala, who was in town during the weekend in the company of two Japanese investors, said the investors were impressed on locally-produced cauliflower, beans, carrots and chayote which would help open the opportunities for Benguet vegetables to be sold in overseas markets even outside the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Aside from Japan, we are also finalizing deals for Benguet to supply the chayote requirements of Dubai and other vegetable requirements of Singapore and Hong Kong, which are mainly consumers and not producers,” Secretary Alcala stressed.
However, he explained the order of the Japanese investors will not be in big volumes of vegetables because they want to test the consistency of the compliance of local farmers on the stringent requirements, particularly in the low chemical residues and the quality of their produce.
Secretary Alcala said the agriculture department will continue to extend technical assistance to local vegetable farmers aside from having the P1 billion trading center operational so that there will be sustained supply of vegetables to address the expected surge in demand once the agreements with other foreign countries will be closed.
The DA official cited the operation of the biggest trading facility in the country will significantly uplift the standing of highland vegetables in the high-end and international markets because it will be able to address the needs of the buyers, especially those who need assorted types of vegetables from the local producers.
Benguet produces around 600 metric tons of assorted vegetables annually and the local vegetable industry provide sources of livelihood to some 250,000 individuals.
Secretary Alcala said the farmers could only avail of the assistance from the new trading facility once they become accredited members of the umbrella organization of farmers which will be the primary beneficiary of all the project components.
According to him, one of the interventions being implemented by the Aquino administration to help in sustaining the growth of the country’s agriculture sector for it not to be left behind in the implementation of the ASEAN free trade agreement and the demand for vegetables with added value is to put up additional 23 trading centers in the different parts of the country to cater to the different aspects of agriculture.
He explained the primary purpose of putting up trading centers is to allow buyers to have easier access to the farm products and for them to be able to trade with legitimate farmers’ organizations who will guarantee the stable supply of vegetables both for the high-end and international markets.
He called on local farmers not to doubt the sincerity of the government to extend assistance to them because what the agency is concerned with is to uplift the welfare of the agriculture industry stakeholders who also feed the Filipinos and other foreigners wanting to patronize locally grown products. By Dexter A. See