Cordillera vegetable farmers eyed for assistance on production costs

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday that it is studying ways to lower production costs for vegetable farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said in a meeting with the vegetable industry that the DA is focused on cost relief which will raise farmer incomes even if their revenues stay the same.

“The overall cost of production can be lowered, but the farmers’ income can be maintained or even increased — that’s what we should think about,” Mr. Tiu Laurel said.

Industry representatives called on the DA to address the high cost of fertilizer, seed, and pesticides.

Issues also raised included the lack of market access for goods bearing the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and lack of recognition by local governments of their special food lane transport privileges.

He said various initiatives will create broader markets for GAP-certified products, while the network of government-subsidized KADIWA stores will be expanded.

Traders have been offering low prices for highland vegetables, forcing some CAR farmers to dump their crops and seek government intervention.

The DA’s CAR regional office has reported that the drop in prices was due to a dearth of buyers for upland vegetables between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3.

Mr. Tiu Laurel said the DA will actively enforce Executive Order No. 41, which suspended the collection of fees by local government units from goods vehicles. — Adrian H. Halili