Issue of September 6, 2020
Mt. Province
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Clustering of Benguet towns in veggie trade suspended
by Ofelia C. Empian

The clustering of the 13 Benguet towns which set the schedule of farmers and traders in entering the vegetable trading centers in La Trinidad has been suspended for two weeks pending further study to its effectivity.

Gov. Melchor Diclas said reports from farmers and traders from the 13 towns showed the clustering policy is not properly implemented causing other farmers to trade more often than others. 

Concerned Benguet mayors reported the situation during the provincial Inter-Agency Task Force meeting last week prompting the governor to order the suspension of the policy effective Sept. 2.

He added there are also complaints on social media stating the clustering has contributed to the glut of vegetables causing other farmers to not be able to deliver their vegetables at the trading centers in La Trinidad.

The trading centers include the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center and other private facilities in Barangays Pico and Puguis.

The clustering was implemented as a Covid-19 response to prevent crowding at the vegetable trading centers.

The municipalities are clustered into two groups with cluster one covering Buguias, Atok, Kabayan, Sablan, Itogon, La Trinidad, and Kapangan while cluster two covers Mankayan, Kibungan, Bakun, Tuba, Tublay, and Bokod.

Also included in the clustering are the vegetable-producing towns of Bauko, Mt. Province and Tinoc, Ifugao.

The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has informed Diclas the reason for the excessive supply of vegetables in the market is the low demand due to the pandemic.

Most of the bigger markets especially in the National Capital Region are under general community quarantine, which lessened the movement of people. Other provinces have lowered their demand due to the closure of many businesses.

Diclas said the OPAG will assess if it would revert back to the scheduling of towns, or upheld the suspension.

La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, on the other hand, said they would have preferred the continuation of the clustering to prevent the glut of vegetables, which would further reduce prices.

Salda has directed municipal workers to strictly intensify the monitoring of the entry of vegetables at the LTVTP in coordination with the BAPTC.

La Trinidad will also strictly impose the implementation of the “no touchdown” policy so that the farmers or traders would unload their vegetable produce and then go back to their point of origin.

“Excess veggies will be hauled back to the municipality where the vegetables originated from. We also to encourage buyers to purchase directly with the farmers at their respective municipalities,” he said.

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