AS VEGETABLE trading peaks next month, the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative (BFMC) is appealing to the Bureau of Customs to monitor the entry of smuggled goods.

“I hope the Customs will monitor. Kawawa iyong farmers dito kung hindi mabantayan this December,” said BFMC general manager Agusta Balanoy.

In December last year, prices of vegetables dropped due to the entry of smuggled vegetables from China.

Balanoy said smuggled vegetables are bigger than highland vegetables.

“Ang carrots ng China halos isang piraso is one kilo, they have uniform size, and usually wala na siyang tangkay (Just one carrot from China weighs almost one kilo. They are uniform in size),” said Balanoy.

Most of the vegetables coming from China are sold in Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Bicol, Divisoria and Balintawak.

He noted that consumers are not able to tell the difference between the China vegetables and those coming from the highlands.

“What they know is that carrots, and broccolis came from here,” said Balanoy.

Board member Robert Namoro, who chairs the committee on agriculture, said the provincial government remains on the lookout for smuggled vegetables entering Benguet.

“We still don't have an activated task force regarding monitoring of smuggling of vegetables but the national government is doing their part including the province. We are not going to relax when it comes to vegetable smuggling,” said Namoro.

Benguet is known as the salad bowl capital of the Philippines with its vast farms devoted to vegetable farming.

Namoro said they are strengthening programs in the agriculture industry to lessen the impact of the competition coming from other Asian countries not only in the field of agriculture.

There are at least 150,000 farmers in Benguet along while the cooperative has 3,000 members coming from as far as Tinoc, Ifugao and Mt. Province.