Benguet LGUs to blame for veggie oversupply
Stories were rife last week of Benguet vegetable farmers who did not even care to harvest what they planted because their prices in the market would not even be enough to cover transportation cost. The only option was just to leave the veggies to rot in their gardens.
What caused such a catastrophe? Nothing complex. It was just the oversupply, the manipulation of middlemen and lack of education and discipline.. Problems which had been hounding the province since time immemorial.
There was oversupply because so many of the farmers in Benguet and in some parts of Mountain Province planted only two or three kinds of vegetables. So the market was awash with these came harvest time.
How to solve the oversupply? Benguet State University came up with the very simple solution many decades ago which was to coordinate the farmers so that if those in one municipality planted potatoes, those in the next municipality should plant cabbage, and the others should plant carrots or sweet peas or Baguio beans or celery, so forth and so on. Too bad what BSU did not have was the capability to implement the idea nor the police power required for such, much less the political will. So, theory, it remained.
The only way to implement that is to coordinate all the barangays concerned and tell them to listen and follow whatever plan is hatched towards avoiding oversupply, or else they will again suffer the dire consequences. The only entities that can do these are the local government units—the province, municipalities and the barangays. So what had they been doing all these years? Nothing.
Part of the problem is also the arrogance or hard headedness or stupidity of the farmers. So the story goes about an agricultural technician who went to a Benguet municipality to lecture on best farming practices, especially crop rotation and on the use of pesticides. He reached the place by taking the bus. Too bad for him. The vegetable farmers at the place just made a killing during the past harvest so majority of them bought new pickup trucks and SUVs. This very superficial reality made them look down on the technician, muttering: “Ay no mayat din ibagbaga yo ay binmaknang kayo kuma.” (If what you were telling were true you should be rich by now). In short, they did not listen. “Perhaps they’ll listen now.”
Then there is the ubiquitous problem of middle men controlling the prices. Also the lack of discipline and education of farmers, but these would be another story here next week.**