LA TRINIDAD, Benguet— Vegetable farmers and traders here, who are supplying vegetables to Metro Manila and other parts of the country, are appealing to Manila Mayor “Isko Moreno” Domagoso to allow them to bring their produce to Divisoria or lose millions of pesos from rotten vegetables.
The same call was aired by officials here who are coordinating with the Manila City mayor’s office for a dialogue.
Rudy Bulawan, chairman of the grievance committee of the traders and truckers, said on Monday the week will be a difficult one as they will not be allowed to enter Recto Avenue in Manila for more than three days during Tondo’s celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño.
Bulawan’s group is composed of more than 100 20-ton trucks, 20 of which are delivering vegetables to Divisoria twice a day or a minimum of 400 tons of assorted vegetables.
“The whole stretch was declared zero-vendor by Mayor Moreno from January 17 to 19. This is aside from another day devoted to the asphalting of the road where the parade will pass [through],” Bulawan said in Filipino.
Bulawan said the truckers transport 1.2 to 1.5 million kilograms of assorted vegetables from the trading post here daily and about 500,000 of which are brought to Divisoria. These figures double or triple during the holiday season.
“Three days of not being allowed to enter mean a minimum of 1.5 million kilograms of assorted vegetables that will not be transported from the trading post here to Divisoria,” he said.
He added that the vegetables are highly perishable and will surely rot and the effect will be felt more by the farmers of Benguet.
As of Monday, when half of the road was closed due to asphalting works, the prices of vegetables have dropped to as high as 50 percent for carrots and 20 percent for cabbage in the wholesale prices. The prices of cabbage on Monday were at PHP8.
The Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center reported that as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the prices of vegetables are as follows: radish PHP1-PHP2; first-class Scorpio cabbage PHP6-PHP7; jumbo potato PHP60 to PHP65; carrots PHP10 to PHP12; first-class sayote PHP3 to PHP4; second class sayote PHP1 to PHP2; untrimmed broccoli PHP7 to PHP10; first-class cauliflower at PHP10 to PHP15; second-class cauliflower at PHP4 to PHP5; celery at PHP5; and wombok (Chinese cabbage) at PHP5 to PHP8.
“Isang araw lang hindi maibyahe ang mga gulay maba-bargain na ang mga yan pagdating ng hapon at ang pinaka maapektuhan dito ay mga farmers (If the transport of vegetables is delayed for a day, it will deteriorate and its prices will drop as early as the same afternoon and it will be the farmers who will be affected the most),” Bulawan said.
He said they hope the Manila mayor will reconsider the three days and just have the zero vendors on the feast day.
Bulawan said they experience the same situation as early as December 15 when Domagoso ordered a zero vendor policy in Divisoria, leading to vegetables dropping in prices due to lower quality as a result of non-transport.
“Noong December ganito rin and nangyari. Nakahabol lang kami ng konti noong December 29 noong pinayagan na niya na makapagtinda (This same situation was experienced in December and we were only able to catch up a little on Dec. 29 when the mayor us to sell),” he said.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said he has coordinated with the staff of Domagoso for a possible schedule of a dialogue.
He and probably other officials of La Trinidad and the leaders of the vegetable stakeholders hope to meet with Domagoso on the issue.
Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas said he is willing to join the group that will meet with Domagoso to show support and ask for considerations for the welfare of the farmers who have lost a lot from the drop of prices.
Earlier, the vegetable traders’ group had requested the Baguio City government to allow them to use the different Sundays of January for the use and closure of Session Road to sell vegetables and avoid the further loss in income of the farmers. Liza Agoot /PNA – northboundasia.com