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“After rice, our next focus is to achieve self-sufficiency in vegetables.”
This was declared by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala during the recent 10th National Vegetable Congress in Butuan City, attended by 1,000 farmers, local government officials and vegetable industry stakeholders and exhibitors.
He said the DA through its High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) aims to increase the country’s current sufficiency level in vegetables, from 65 percent (%) to 100% and beyond, within the medium-term or 2016.
He said the country’s vegetable per capita consumption is estimated at 40 kilograms (kg), which is equivalent to an annual requirement of 3.8 million metric tons of vegetables of roughly 95 million Filipinos. Such consumption level is just one-fourth of the recommended dietary requirement of 146 kg per year, according to the World Health Organization.
Further, the DA chief urged the vegetable congress participants to forge marketing agreements with institutional buyers and consumers, and thereafter plan their respective production and harvest schedules for each commodity. This should be done to obtain reasonable profit and more importantly avoid oversupply and sudden drop in prices.
In this regard, he cited initial efforts of the DA to meet with major vegetable traders from Divisoria wholesale market in Metro Manila to determine their vegetable supply and demand requirements, which will be relayed to farmers’ cooperatives and groups for them to schedule their production, harvest and delivery operations.
The consultation will be conducted regularly and forms part of the intensified program of the DA through its Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) and HVCDP to match and directly link farmers’ groups with wholesale market traders and institutional buyers, with the aim of providing producers and sellers comfortable profit, as well as consumers with regular supply of reasonably-priced, safe and quality vegetables.
Further, he said the DA is identifying other alternative or expansion areas that are less vulnerable to flooding and drought that could produce vegetables year-round or during off-season in traditional farming areas like Benguet, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.
This year, the DA through the HVCDP has allotted P643 million, or about one-half of the program’s total P1.3-billion budget, to undertake several initiatives to sustain and prop up the country’s vegetable industry. A similar budget is proposed next year.
During the vegetable congress — spearheaded by the Philippine Vegetable Industry Development Board (PVIDB) and Caraga High Value Vegetable Cluster, Inc. — Secretary Alcala responded favorably to 10 resolutions presented by PVIDB chair Marcelino Remotigue.
Among these are: the DA through the Bureau of Plant Industry will strictly implement or enforce phyto-sanitary quarantine procedures on imported vegetables; will craft a vegetable credit program, in consultation with the PVIDB, patterned after the pilot ‘Sikat-Saka’ for rice implemented in four provinces by the DA in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines; and implement a comprehensive vegetable production and marketing training program in partnership with the PVIDB, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, and DA Regional Field Units, Agricultural Training Institute, HVCDP and AMAS.
On the resolution to establish up technology demonstration farms that will produce organic vegetables in strategic areas nationwide, the DA chief instead urged the PVIDB and interested farmers’ groups to engage in commercial scale production, and the DA will provide appropriate technical and marketing support.
Secretary Alcala also asked the PVIDB to discuss with the DA-AMAS on the group’s proposal to establish vegetable trading centers in the country. He said one major vegetable trading center will soon rise in Benguet. Other farm trading centers will be established by the DA in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The DA will also consider the proposal to conduct a regular production and marketing survey of major and high value crops at the regional level, in partnership with the PVIDB, DA-RFUs and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.
Finally, the DA will continuously support the yearly conduct of the national vegetable congress, allotting at least P500,000 for the purpose, and the conduct of PVIDB quarterly meetings.
DA-HVCDP Nat’l. Coordinator Jennifer Remoquillo - CP 09192011000