In South Cotabato, farm animals feed on vegetable oversupply
KORONADAL CITY—Three months of community quarantine has resulted in a glut of vegetables in South Cotabato, many of the produce ending as food for backyard animals.
Harmie Jay Hechanova, high-value crops coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos), said many households had turned to planting vegetables during the lockdown and no longer depended on supply from the public market.
Hechanova said people still avoided the major public markets where farmers usually sell bulk of their harvests.
“They are patronizing the talipapa (roadside markets) instead of buying in public markets, to the detriment of dedicated farmers,” he told the Inquirer.
Enrique Valenzuela, marketing manager of Lake Sebu Vegetable Growers Association, lamented that some 600 kilograms of cucumber, eggplant, and bottle and sponge gourds harvested in his 4-hectare farm ended as food for their hogs.
According to Valenzuela, these vegetables, which are easy to grow in backyards, sell for an average of P6 a kilo, a price considered low and leaves little profit for producers. But when they bring their crops in the market, prepared in 15-kilo packs, they could hardly sell, he said.
Instead of leaving these to rot, they feed it to animals, Valenzuela said.
At the height of the lockdowns in March and April, farm-gate price of cucumber, for example, was P30 a kilo.
Other farmers in Lake Sebu, a vegetable-producing town, have been feeding their squash harvests to tilapia cultured in ponds and rabbits, the latter in test-propagation for their meat potentials.
Hechanova said the DA had been helping vegetable farmers link up with buyers through the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita,” a collaborative project with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Food Terminal Inc.
Vegetable farmers could also avail of emergency loans, amounting to at least P20,000 and payable in one year without interest, from Land Bank of the Philippines, he said.
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