DA allots P100-M to compensate Cordillera veggie farmers

MANILA The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has allocated PHP100 million for the Cordillera vegetable farmers, who were forced to dump or throw away truckloads of vegetables because there were no buyers.

This was stated by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiAol following confirmation by DA-Cordillera officials that the reason behind the failure of the farmers to sell their produce was due to Tropical Depression Usman, which caused floods in the Bicol Region, preventing deliveries in the Bicol and Visayas regions.

'Usman'-hit the Bicol Region on Dec. 28 and caused the closure of its national highway due to floods, thus preventing the transport of the vegetables.

"My attention was caught by articles posted on Facebook blaming the DA for the failure of the farmers to sell their vegetables. An Open Letter even accused me of working against the interest of the farmers, an accusation which is totally out of bounds but which I understand was triggered by high emotions. This prompted me to personally investigate what the cause of the problem was and when it was made clear that Tropical Depression Usman was the root cause, I made the decision to order the compensation of the farmers," PiAol noted.

"Accusations that the DA is insensitive to the plight of the Cordillera vegetable farmers are baseless and prematurely hurled," he said.

PiAol said the DA and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) will start the validation process, which would involve the identification of farmers who suffered losses and the estimated value of the vegetables they threw away, noting that most of the farmers who lost their vegetables are beneficiaries of the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) credit program of the DA, which gives them up to PHP50,000 at an interest of 6 percent every year.

The validation process could take two weeks, after which, the release of the insurance payments would start, he added.

Reports said farmers in Benguet province were forced to throw away tons of vegetables they harvested last week as prices sank in markets and trading posts amid oversupply.

There was an oversupply of produce from January 1 to 7. Some vegetables like carrots were sold at PHP1 to PHP7 per kilo, while potatoes were sold for PHP15 per kilo. Normally, these should have been sold at PHP15 to PHP50 per kilo.

It further said that traders refused to buy the vegetables delivered by the farmers to the Benguet Vegetable Trading Center because the floods in Bicol prevented them from shipping the commodities to Bicol and the Visayas. Produce that weren't sold were thrown away. Farmers said they have suffered huge losses because of the low prices.

PiAol assured the affected farmers that the government will compensate them for the losses they incurred due to 'Usman'.

"I would like to assure our farmers that the administration of President Rody (Rodrigo) Duterte listens to the voices of our farmers and fishermen. As I have emphasized time and again, (the) government is never perfect but this government will respond when the need arises," he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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