LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Local organic farmers fear of loosing sale with the multinational companies competing in the market after the National Government signed a number of free trade agreements with other countries.

Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said “the United States is realizing that there is a market in organic farming and (its farmers) will soon have big businesses.”

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This after the country signed into free trade agreements opening doors to produce from neighboring countries that could kill sales of local produce with quality and quantity of imported goods seen to be better.

Governor Nestor Fongwan said the local industry is affected by the free trade agreements. “We should talk about this because it affects us.”

Fongwan said the agricultural projects will be made in vain if the vegetable industry collapses.

Bello said “we have been warning (the) government of the effects of the WTO and free trade, but they have not listened.”

During the Benguet vegetable congress here the effect of the Asian Free Trade Agreement was tackled with invited experts to speak to local farmers.

University of the Philippines (UP) professor Riza Bernabe spoke on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Bilateral Agreements while Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano of the Department of Agriculture talked about safety mechanisms for farmers here.

Bello said the government’s minimal support to farmers has not helped the local industry cope with the agricultural pacts it entered.

Fongwan is now advocating more farmers to go organic to capture the larger market for fresh and safe produce, saying the demand for organic vegetables is one of the answers for the local farmer’s needs.