An improvement in the management and operations of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) to better serve the farmers of Cordillera and the setting up of trading centers in the country are key areas being looked at by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2024.
In his visit to the BAPTC, Atty. Alvin John Balagbag, Chief of Staff of DA Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, explained that although the trading center continues to provide around 70 percent of the semi-temperate vegetable requirement in the country, there are improvements that could be made to maximize the facility which was discussed during the consultative meeting with BAPTC stakeholders.
“It’s operating well, but there is room for improvement, so I think that will be discussed with the Secretary on how we can further improve BAPTC and make this a model for others,” Balagbag said.
The BAPTC serves as a major hub for the trade of highland vegetables distributed to various markets in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces.
The trading center is being led by the project steering board (PSB), which serves as the policy-making and advisory board. The DA Secretary sits as the Chairperson, with the BSU President as the Vice-chairperson. The other members are the Benguet provincial governor, La Trinidad municipal mayor, Benguet district congressman, DA-CAR Regional Executive Director, and representative of the Benguet farmers leaders’ council.
Following his rounds of the trading center, Balagbag was briefed on the operations and management of the facility. The areas of concern presented to him were the proposed processing area, a dormitory for workers, repair of the weighbridge, the use of data and analysis in BAPTC’s operations, the problems encountered by Benguet truckers in the delivery of semi-temperate vegetables, and more incentives to farmers among others, which will be forwarded to the DA Secretary who is scheduled to visit BAPTC in 2024.
The bulk of the major vegetables traded in BAPTC, like cabbage, potato, Chinese cabbage, radish, and carrots, come from the towns of Mankayan, Kibungan, Buguias, and Bakun in Benguet and Bauko in Mountain Province. Produce from other towns is traded at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LTVTP), Baguio Hangar Market, and Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal.
Funded by the DA worth around PhP700 million, the center started trading operations in July 2015, occupying a four-hectare lot at the “strawberry fields” owned by the BSU.
The facility was constructed to decongest the decades-old LTVTP, which still operates to this day. The spacious BAPTC has continuously attracted more and more farmers and traders. Their involvement in management policy-making and planning transformed them from clients to active partners. By JTLlanes