CONSUMERS are urged to be vigilant when buying vegetables.

Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative (BFMC) general manager Augusta Balanoy advised consumers of imported potatoes sold in Divisoria believed to be smuggled from Taiwan.

“We believe these potatoes were already brought earlier this year because it has sprouts and there is no pest risk analysis on the product which is being dumped in the local markets,” said Balanoy.

Balanoy added locally grown potatoes, particularly in Benguet, do not grow sprouts and softens as days pass.

The farmer’s coop official added these imported potatoes are being sold in Bicol, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu.

“This is worst when consumers cannot differentiate Benguet potatoes and imported ones. It is also a concern when imported ones are mixed with local produce so it won’t be noticed in market stands,” she added.

The BMFC official also revealed the vegetables are being stocked in Divisoria and brought out from time to time once prices of potatoes sky rockets.

Balanoy said they are currently completing their report to be submitted to agriculture officials while the samples of potatoes will be tested for further studies.

Sometime in 2008, they group has also gathered imported carrot samples brought to Dr. Violeta Salda for research, and it was found out it had formalin, prolonging the shelf life when displayed in the open market.

Balanoy meanwhile said prices and supply of highland vegetables remain stable as traders continue to flock the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) and the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LTVGTP).

“We have plenty of supply, but the problem is traffic congestion. Had the local government placed in some schemes to lessen congestion in the area maybe trading would be easier,” said Balanoy.

As of 8 a.m. of December 29, at least 250 farmers are lined up at the BAPTC and LTVTP to sell their wares.

Trading in both areas will be until the Friday only, added Balanoy.