THE early Chinese migrants to the Cordillera started the vegetable industry along the Mountain Trail, which is now part of the Halsema Highway.
The highway starts from La Trinidad, Benguet climbing up towards Atok before snaking down to the interior municipalities of Mountain Province, Kalinga, and Ifugao.
To succeed in vegetable farming against the harsh conditions of the cold and rainy conditions of the interior mountains, the Chinese worked together as a team. They supported each other in terms of capital, inputs, and marketing.
In those early days, some of my relatives worked with the Chinese as laborers and supervisors in the farms. From their stories, I have since known that the Chinese have been practicing production programming to prevent market gluts during their time.
We talked about production programming as a production and marketing intervention without really realizing how it can be successfully undertaken as a strategy.
In the experience of the early Chinese pioneers, it can only work in a united, cooperative, and team environment.
In the early days of the vegetable industry, the Chinese operated farms from La Trinidad to as far as Sinto or Mount Data Plateau. They supported one another with capital, inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and food supplies. The planting and harvests were also synchronized and delivered to the markets in Baguio City and Metro Manila on schedule to ensure that supply gluts will not hurt them and their laborers.
Today, the production and marketing of vegetables are disorganized. Our farmers plant anything, anytime they want. Many liken vegetable farming to gamble where most of the time they end up as losers, which is rather sad.
I am inclined to believe that vegetable farming is profitable rather than a losing proposition. Otherwise, people would have abandoned it. Still, things could be far better if farmers are organized into cooperatives and federated to undertake production programming.
Current experiences continue to suggest that agricultural development initiatives are more efficient and effective when service institutions and providers are united while farmers are organized into associations and/or cooperatives.
For example, in Region 03, the Department of Agriculture Central Luzon through its Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division RIII set-up “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” outlets and run “Kadiwa on Wheels” to serve various communities in the region by making agricultural and fishery products available, affordable, and accessible.
In just over two months, the DA KADIWA Program was able to sell agricultural and fishery products worth P4,079, 873.
The DA-03 attributed their success with the partnership of the local government units (LGUs), farmers organizations and cooperatives, food companies, farms, and corporations to include Princess Dry Goods, FLOFA, John N Mico Food Products, Candaba Duck Raisers Cooperative, Rose-Bitoy Salted Eggs, Pansinao Parents Agriculture Association, Munting Paraiso ni Yolly Farm, Sapang MPC, Farmer's Joy, Aling Juana Puto Seco, Binukawan Bicol Marketing Cooperative, Jersan Sabado, Jersan Meat, Magnolia Chicken, Bounty Fresh Chicken, Marricks, Laineque Pasalubong Center, Rodel Lagman, ALPITZ Quail Farm, Ridad Fruits, Vitarich, Nutri Chunks, BFAR, Mama Agnes, Tiltilan Delicacies, Marilao Farmers Marketing Cooperative, Mekeni, PCC, and Joey Pring.
Ideally, success in farming is ensured when farmers plant what the market needs. You plant only pre-determined and planned commodities in quantities and volumes in target markets.
Farmers need not do that all by themselves. They can plan what to produce and sell their products in partnership with their cooperatives, LGUs, DA, and the BAPTC.