THE Department of Agriculture (DA) was tasked by the House committee on transport to promote the use of compartmentalized reefer trucks among small farmers so they can get better market access.
In a committee hearing on Monday, Feb. 18, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo raised the concern of small farmers who are having difficulty bringing their goods to other areas due to the high cost of shipment.
A refrigerator truck, or reefer truck or van, is designed to carry designed to carry perishable freight at specific temperatures.
House transportation committee chairman Rep. Cesar Sarmiento directed the DA to link farmers with reefer truck operators so they can strategize on boosting each other’s industries.
A DA representative present during the meeting admitted that one of the problems faced by the agriculture sector is logistics or the movement of goods from one place to another.
Arroyo said linking both players could encourage investments into this space.
Paul Rodriguez, vice president of Philippine Roro Operators Association, said they are willing to meet up with different farmers’ associations to discuss areas where they can extend assistance to the farmers with all their requirements.
Asteria Caberte, regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7, welcomed the idea of consolidation through a compartmentalized reefer truck so small farmers can share the costs of the shipment.
“Transport cost is a fixed cost. So this is a help for small farmers, as the total cost will be shouldered by all of them. This will improve price points and competitiveness,” said Caberte, adding that if not compartmentalized, the risk of contamination of goods is high.
Meanwhile, DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado, in a phone interview, said the agency is planning to roll out refrigerated vessels to ferry various agricultural products from parts of the country to major markets.
The DA, according to Diputado, has allocated around P450 million for the acquisition of two refrigerated vessels this year.
Dubbed as “food boats,” the vessels may also be used to carry fruits, vegetables and other farm commodities.
DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol earlier said the food boats aim to partly address the high shipping cost of products coming from Mindanao that are bound for major markets like Metro Manila. (KOC)