Checkpoint woes, low demand cut ‘bangus’ sales in Pangasinan
CALASIAO, PANGASINAN—While production of “bangus” (milkfish) and tilapia remains at its peak this month, the Luzon-wide lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has meant a sales slump to growers due to transport restrictions and declining orders from dealers.
Some producers who have managed to bring the fishes to the nearest markets are met only by few buyers because of limited movement caused by checkpoints, according to Nestor Domenden, assistant director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Ilocos region.
Alex Soriano, vice president of Feedmix Specialist, which maintains fish cages in Sual town, said shipments to the markets in Dagupan City and Navotas City in Metro Manila had been cut by 50 percent.
The company has not encountered problems at Metro Manila checkpoints, but supply orders of wholesalers in Navotas have been reduced because only a few traders could enter the fish markets.
President Duterte has imposed an enhanced community quarantine over Luzon from March 17 to April 13 to stem the spread of COVID-19. Under quarantine rules, the provision for food and essential services would be regulated as checkpoints were installed in key areas, manned by uniformed personnel.
“Lines are long at the Navotas entrance, and some people grow impatient and decide not to buy, while some do not want to get the quarantine pass from their villages,” Soriano told the Inquirer.
From 25 tons of fish, the company has been sending only 12.5 tons to Navotas daily, Soriano said.
The company also cut fish volume for delivery to the Dagupan market where dealers from northern Luzon provinces buy fish. From 5 tons, only 2.5 tons are brought to the city’s “consignacion” (wholesale market).
Traders could not bring fish directly to Baguio City and other provinces because of strict checkpoints along highways in La Union province, Soriano said.
Rosendo So, chair of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura or Sinag, said some checkpoint personnel would even ask for medical certificates from the mayor of the town where the delivery truck drivers and helpers live.
“How can the produce reach consumers if local governments have different checkpoint policies? They should follow the national government’s policy to give priority to food deliveries,” So said.
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