The country’s vegetable producers have been challenged last week to corner the high-end market before imported or smuggled vegetables from China beat them to the punch.
“To do this we must work as partners and not as competitors,” Gov. Nestor Fongwan urged participants of the 10th National Vegetable Congress in Butuan City.
He said in preparation for the full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in 2014, the country’s vegetable producers should form alliances and partnerships, especially with the Cordillera Administrative Region where 65 to 80 percent of the country’s temperate vegetables are produced.
Benguet will host the October 2013 National Vegetable Congress at the request of the Philippine Vegetable Industry Board. Fongwan said with the completion of the Benguet Sports Center next year, venue will not be a problem.
“Besides, it will coincide with the Adivay Festival celebrations,” he said.
He told the congress the only way for the vegetable industry to be globally competitive is to enhance current marketing strategies through proper packaging, sorting, value-adding, and improvisation.
He said part of the strategies should include empowering the farmers through the formation of cooperatives, citing as example the formation of the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative.
The governor said he has requested the Department of Agriculture to come up with a national profi-ling of vegetable producers to determine the exact volume of production.
He said he was also set to talk to the neighboring provinces of Ilocos Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, and Nueva Ecija to convince them to come up with a profiling of their vegetable producers.
In his presentation, Fongwan said the province of Benguet was meeting head-on the implementation of AFTA by the establishment of a cold chain and processing, the treatment of acidic and over-used farms, and the creation of the farmers marketing cooperative.
“We have the quality and the quantity but we are working on proper packaging and a viable marketing system to provide our farmers an edge,” he said.
Also with him are representatives of the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative headed by its manager, Agot Balanoy.
The Congress drew more than 400 participants from all over the country.