ITOGON, Benguet– Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan underscored the urgent need for concerned government agencies and local governments to create a local anti-smuggling task force to be assigned in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to monitor the unabated entry of smuggled vegetables that directly compete with locally produced ones to address the serious negative impact of vegetable smuggling on the province’s agriculture industry.
Palangdan claimed that the serious problem of the local agriculture industry on the unabated entry of smuggled agricultural crops has been a recurring concern of agriculture industry over the past several decades that trace back to the time of the late Rep. Nestor B. Fongwan, Sr. which had not been effectively addressed by concerned government agencies.
He pointed out that it is high time that the provincial government heavily invests in the organization of the local anti-smuggling task force to take charge in monitoring the entry of smuggled vegetables.
The local chief executive claimed that Benguet must continue to preserve and protect its status as the major producer of highland vegetables in the country by ensuring that smuggled agricultural crops that directly compete with the province’s products should not be easily shipped into the country without undergoing the rigid processes in the BOC.
Further, Mayor Palangdan also recommended for the Philippines to work out the amendment of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade of the World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO) to exempt highland vegetables from the zero tariff imposed on these to ensure that the locally produced agricultural crops can compete with smuggled and imported ones.
According to him, concerned agriculture industry stakeholders are always at the losing end when smuggled vegetables that freely enter the country flood the markets at much cheaper prices and well preserved condition thus the need for these imported produce to be subjected to the pest risk analysis and other related tests to ensure that they do not contain chemicals harmful to people and the environment.
Based on the statistics from concerned government agencies, Benguet is the producer of more than 80 percent of the semi-temperate vegetables being sold annually in the different parts of the country.
He urged vegetable farmers, traders and consumers to continue to be vigilant in reporting to concerned government agencies and the local governments the presence of smuggled vegetables to ensure that appropriate actions will be taken to prevent these from flooding the local markets and cause the drastic reduction in the buying prices of locally produced ones as it will be the concerned stakeholders who suffer the impact of a decline in the prices of highland vegetables.