LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Senator Imee Marcos chided the leadership of the agriculture department for the continuous importation and smuggling of agricultural crops that tend to slowly kill the local agriculture and fisheries sector that is serving as one of the major sources of livelihood of people in most parts of the country.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, pointed out that it is very unfortunate that despite the sudden drop in the prices of locally produced agricultural crops, the agriculture department still continues to import meat and other agricultural products while smuggling continues to proliferate dealing a big blow to the potential sustainable growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
The senator called on the agriculture department to stop the importation of agricultural crops and instead focus on how to stop smuggling of vegetables that is complicating the already serious problems of the agriculture sector in having to deal with such difficult situations confronting the said industry that is supposed to feed the Filipino people.
“Ang D.A, tigilan na yung pag-iimport, masarap ang strawberry ng Benguet, masarap ang gulay ng Cordillera at Ilocos, tigilan ang pag-iimport pati pag-i-smuggle. Please lang,” Senator Marcos stressed.
She disclosed that agriculture industry stakeholders are now feeling the serious negative impact of the quadruple increase in oil product prices and those of farm inputs, aggravated by the ongoing importation and smuggling of agricultural crops, thus why the government should prioritize measures that will mitigate the impact of these factors in the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
“Ang hirap-hirap kumita sa agrikultura kayat tinutulungan tayo ng gobyerno para magkaisa tayo. Bilang Senador niyo, nagsisikap at naghahanap po ako ng solusyon sa problema ng mga residente ng Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region at Ilocos Norte,’ she added.
Through the initiative of the senator, the agriculture department distributed some delivery trucks to some vegetable-producing towns in the province under the enhanced Kadiwa financial program to help in reducing the expensive transportation cost of the produce of farmers from their farms to the nearest market to increase their income from the sale of their agricultural products.
The enhanced Kadiwa financial program was copied from the previous initiative of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. that aimed to boost the production and distribution of food products from the farmers cutting off abusive middlemen, thus, the crops are much cheaper for consumers.
Benguet, some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao produce more than 80 percent of the semi-temperate vegetables that are being sold in the different parts of the country that is why the said areas had been known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines over the past several decades.
Marcos expressed hope that the agriculture department will formulate strategies to lift the country’s agriculture sector from the heavy impact inflicted by the importation and smuggling of agricultural crops.