AS AN offshoot of the meeting between La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post stakeholders and Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cordillera, Agriculture Secretary William Dar is asked to reconsider his previous order of Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for highland vegetables.
Engr. Danilo Daguio, regional technical director for Operations of DA-CAR, said on December 7 that the agriculture department issue SRP because of the calamity that occurred in National Capital Region.
On November 26, the DA Administrative Circular 17 series of 2020 was signed by Dar. It aims to serve as guide retailers and consumers amid the Luzon-wide price freeze imposed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and series of calamities that hit the country.
Under the circular, SRP for basic necessities in wet markets and supermarkets in NCR include vegetables, namely: cabbage (scorpio) P60 per kilogram, carrots P80 per kilogram, Baguio beans P100 per kilo, white potato P70 per kilo, Pechay P60 per kilo, and chayote P30 per kilo.
On December 7, a meeting was held in La Trinidad municipal hall together with the officers and members of League of Associations of La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LTVTP) and the agriculture department in the region.
"We will ask the secretary to reconsider the SRP by lifting it hopefully the secretary understand. I-explain namin na based on law and supply and demand, kulang na iyong supply natin naturally tataas price, because we were affected typhoon and losses in the past because of the pandemic," Daguio added.
Daguio and the league said the SRP was issued for NCR but it has a cascading effect to the sources including that of in La Trinidad.
"Because umayaw na si buyer sa Manila so in effect, walang mapagbentahan si farmer," said Daguio, noting that 80 percent of the vegetables going to Manila are from Benguet province and provinces in the region.
The league, in a statement, meanwhile said "as a result, buyers from the NCR had been cancelling their orders since said SRP is the same or even lower than the running price at the sources in La Trinidad."
"While we understand that such price control was to help the consumers amidst the typhoon and pandemic effects our farmers also suffered the same and perhaps even more as for the past two cropping this year, market price of all highland vegetables was below cost of production," the league said.
The group said for the past weeks, wholesale prices of Pechay Baguio ranges from P55 to P90 per kilo (kg), cabbage (scorpio) at P60 per kg, carrots at P80 per kg, and potatoes at P45-P70 per kg at the LTVTP, Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center and other private trading areas in La Trinidad.
The league added that in the time of Yuletide season, vegetable prices have gone up and farmers are hoping to recover their losses.
They said the surge of prices is due to the lowered supply since the crops of the Cordillera farmers were destroyed by the previous typhoons, citing there are farmers who were not able to plant much since their capital were lost in the past two cropping.
At the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center, Dr. Violeta Salda, chief of operations, said that with the SRP issued, farmers had been experiencing loss for several days, adding buyers from the NCR had been also cancelling their orders.
During a value chain validation, she said they suggested that SRP should be based on production cost in BAPTC and marketing cost of outlets to cover transport costs in order to have win-win solution for farmers, traders and consumer.
The LTVTP and BAPTC both located in La Trinidad, Benguet was established to boost trading of highland vegetables, spurring the economic development of the town which was hailed as the trading center for Benguet province and the Cordillera capable of supplying the entire country of fresh produce.
Republic Act 7581, known as the Price Act, declared that the State should ensure availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times, without denying legitimate businesses a fair return on investment.
Under the implementing rules and regulations of the price act, the agriculture department was directed as one of the implementing agencies to issue SRP for any basic necessities and prime commodities.