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IN TIME FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Prices of Benguet flowers stable despite hike in production costs

/ 05:19 AM February 13, 2018

FLOWER ALLEY Short-stemmed roses from plantations in Benguet province sell for P100 a dozen at Baguio City public market’s flower alley on Monday, two days before Valentine’s Day. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—Prices of roses and other flowers packed and readied for the Valentine’s week remain stable, in spite of a slight increase in the cost of their production, flower growers from Benguet province said.

Ligaya Pumihic, who delivers and sells flowers in Metro Manila, said the wholesale price of roses during the peak season remained at P700 per bundle (two dozens of roses).

She said prices were still dependent on supply and demand. “If there is an oversupply we cannot increase our selling price because we will not be able to sell enough … and risk not being able to sell at all,” she said.

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Peak months

During peak months, Pumihic said flower producers sold 50 to 70 boxes, particularly in February, and on Mother’s Day, All Saints’ Day and the Yuletide season.

Each box contains 50 bundles of roses. “The demand will be at its highest from Feb. 12 to 14,” she said.

Benguet grows high-quality roses because of the cool climate. Its farmers grow cut flowers on 380 hectares of farms. It also grows salad vegetables, supplying most of Metro Manila’s daily demand for carrots, cabbages, lettuce and beans.

But there has been a significant rise in inputs used by gardeners who produce these flowers that are much-sought on Valentine’s Day.

Jun Angeles, a rose farmer at Barangay Alno in La Trinidad, the Benguet capital, said traders got 10 percent of sales while farmers got 90 percent, but farmers shouldered production costs—from labor to farm inputs to transportation.

He said a sachet of insecticide now costs P450, up by P50 to P60, while fungicide costs P550 a sachet.

Insecticide and fungicide are sprayed on roses every four days to make these last longer. Angeles uses nine sachets of the chemicals in a single application.

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TRAIN impact

He said he was not certain if the price hikes were due to increases in fuel price or the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law (Republic Act No. 10963).

He said flower producers absorbed a P2.50 increase per liter of fuel in January, followed by a P1 increase this month, but he hoped to make a killing now that demand was high.

“We spend more during peak season to produce better quality harvest for a chance at a better income,” he said.

The fuel price increases already represent a 20-percent cut in their gross revenue, Angeles said, adding that in months when demand is low, the increased expenses represent half of their profits.

According to him, some gardeners, who do not own land, also pay rent that ranges from P25,000 to P80,000 a year.

Flat areas are more expensive than those along the mountain slopes, but “you can plant more on flat areas,” he said.

Angeles harvested 500 bundles of roses. “There are only a few roses left in the farm now. We have already harvested and transported most of the roses for Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Last week, the city exempted trucks delivering flowers from Benguet to Metro Manila from a ban it imposed last year, given the new tax environment. —KIMBERLIE QUITASOL

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