Tomato harvest starts coming in, promising relief from high prices

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it expects tomato prices to drop this week with the harvest from provinces near Metro Manila start arriving.

“Areas in Southern Tagalog have already started harvesting, and we are expecting tomato prices to gradually decline,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Arnel V. de Mesa said.

According to DA price monitors, tomatoes in Metro Manila markets sold for between P140 and P220 per kilogram as of July 9. The month-earlier price range was P55-P95 per kilo.

Ito siguro ay epekto ng mga pabago-bago ng panahon natin sa ngayon (This might be the result of the variable climate). In the case of tomatoes, the crop experienced El Niño, then it rained. But it is gradually recovering,” he added.

He said that increasing fuel prices could also be behind the rise in prices.

“When the source is far away, such as Benguet or Southern Tagalog, there are additional expenses incurred,” Mr. De Mesa said.

Fuel companies on Tuesday raised gasoline prices by P1.60 per liter. For diesel the corresponding hike was P0.65, while kerosene prices rose P0.60.

Last week, the DA said that it had approved the disbursement of P510.447 million in fuel subsidies to about 160,000 farmers.

Each registered farmer owning or renting agricultural machinery will receive P3,000 this month.

“We are just waiting for the certification from the Department of Energy. The condition to release the subsidy is for Dubai crude oil to hit $80 per barrel,” he added. — Adrian H. Halili