Benguet trading center now in the hands of stakeholders

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is leaving the fate of the Benguet Agri–Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) to the hands of the stakeholders.

Alacala told reporters the completion of the BAPTC is one of the legacies of the current administration to the region.

“This is a sustainable project. This is not just for this administration only,” Alcala said.

The DA bankrolled over P550 million for the completion of the facility, which is the country’s biggest trading center eyed to prepare agriculture stakeholders with the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) free trade by the end of this year.

Alcala again appealed to farmers to occupy the BAPTC and set differences aside to make the system proposed by the DA work for the betterment of trading.

Alcala admitted the fate of the BAPTC can never be assured saying “we can never be sure if the next administration has a heart for farmers, but we hope and pray for the best.”

The agriculture secretary added it is crucial for farmers to start using the facility to assure its survival as well as a system for trading which can benefit farmers at the grassroots.

At present, a deadlock has ensued in the issue with courts ordering a status quo in trading in the old trading post, after granting a 20-day Temporary Restraining Order.

Old trading post stall owners secured a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from local courts, giving the trading continuous operation and defying the order of closure issued by Mayor Edna Tabanda.

The transfer of trading to the BAPTC has since been marred with controversy and defiance from stakeholders laced with fears it will ruin the relationship between farmers-buyers-traders and disposers.

Alcala said the BAPTC never intended to leave middlemen out of the trading cycle but aimed to empower farmers with stable trading prices and hands on approach to the sale of their produce

“This (BAPTC) is designed to benefit traders,” Alcala assured.

The BAPTC is a multimillion modern wholesale trading and processing facility for vegetables and fruit which is part of the country’s integrated food supply chain being established in major food producing regions in the country.

Alcala said the DA will never cease to dialog with farmers in the hopes they will heed calls to transfer to the facility and allow a new system to ensue.

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