Benguet guv: Veggie prices manipulated

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Monday, January 6, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Governor Nestor Fongwan is warning the public on a price manipulation.

Fongwan said markets and businessmen are taking advantage of minimal frost damage reports as a leverage to pump prices of highland vegetables.

"Ginagamit lang ito para ma-manipulate ang prices," he said.

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Reports have reached the governor cabbage has reached a high of P50 a kilo in some areas owing to frost incidence in the highlands the alleged low supply of vegetables.

Fongwan said there is minimal damage frost has wrought the province approximating a mere 1 ½ hectares out of almost 300 hectares of vegetable land which were affected by the freezing weather.

"They are making it appear that frost has affected supply," he said.

Only Kibungan and Atok, Buguias and Mankayan towns experienced temperatures dropping to a low of 9 degrees.

Small sitios producing vegetables only suffered minimal damages pegged at 5 percent.

In a report to Secretary Alcala, DA-CAR Dir. Marilyn Sta. Catalina said frost affected around three hectares of potato and cabbage farms in Barangay Paoay, Atok and Barangay Madaymen in Kibungan, Benguet as temperatures there fell to nine degrees Celsius. Of the total affected areas, only one-fourth hectare was totally damaged, the report stated.

"Frosting or the formation of ice crystals is a regular episode in these high altitude areas, so farmers know what to do, these normal occurrences have taught Cordillera farmers mitigation measures such as water sprinkling. They also adjust the schedule of planting, which is why they were able to harvest most of their crops ahead of the frost occurrence," Sta. Catalina said.

Catalina said frost affected around three hectares of potato and cabbage farms in Barangay Paoay, Atok and Barangay Madaymen in Kibungan.

Night frosting was first observed on December 30 and worsened the following day. Known locally as andap, frosting involves the development of moisture into ice crystals on the plants and its leaves.

When not immediately watered, affected crops would wilt as the sun melts the deposited ice. The extreme temperatures leave the affected plants brownish until they die.

The DA has earmarked P2.4 million in 2013 for the construction of small water impounding facility and several units of power sprayers. A greenhouse was also established to allow farmers grow and harvest crops under harsh conditions.

The DA will step up its assistance for Atok and other frost-prone areas, including the establishment of more production facilities such as greenhouses and rain shelters, and distribution of additional power sprayers. Areas suitable for irrigation and spring development will be also identified and validated.

Fongwan said only potatoes prices are expected to hike due to damage during the typhoons on the last quarter of the year, affecting planting cycle of the crop which is sold at a farmers' price of P70 a kilo today.

Prices are expected to stabilize by the end of the month.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 07, 2014.

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