MINDANAO's vegetable sector will convene early next month to address various problems the sector is facing and discuss the possible solutions to each problem in the upcoming 7th Mindanao Vegetable Congress.

Slated in Butuan City on August 4-5, the congress carries the theme "Sustaining the gains of the vegetable industry in Mindanao amidst challenges."

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Ray Acain, president of the Vegetable Industry Council of Southern Mindanao (Vicsmin) said that one of the problems the vegetable sector is facing is marketing.

"We can't maintain the market without continuous supply of vegetables (coming from the farmers)," Acain said. "With the Mindanao Vegetable Congress, we will strengthen our marketing link."

Another problem is the cooperation of the organizations in the vegetable sector.

Acain said the sector is one of the smallest sectors in the country, and that despite of its size, they have difficulties in maintaining the organizations in the said sector.

"We try to reach out to our vegetable growers to organize themselves," Acain said.

Elsie Solidum, assistant regional director of the Department of Science and Technology in Davao Region raised the problem of packaging of vegetables.

"We have seen vegetables na gibutang sa karton, gidasok, human luhodan pa jud," Solidum said.

Acain answered her saying that the Department of Agriculture has already started providing them with trucks and crates. "There are still some areas though na nagagamit pa gihapon og sako-sako," Acain added.

Inventrepreneur Samuel Abrenilla of Coktek Products asked Acain about the problem of post-harvest spoilage. "At least 30-40 percent of the harvest is wasted because of spoilage."

He then offered his award-winning product, a dehydrator that will enable the vegetables to stay fresh for a longer period of time.

"I was amazed with the product when I saw it but we need to study if it first for the value added," Acain said. "Right now we are looking into plan production to reduce spoilage," he added. (MAAL)