Benguet farmers hold caravan to protest vegetable smuggling
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Philippines — At least 250 delivery trucks drove through the main road in this town on Monday for a caravan to protest the continuous smuggling of vegetables and other crops from China at the expense of local growers.
The trucks carried banners calling on authorities to protect farmers by ending the widespread smuggling of vegetables into the country.
Vegetable trader Linda Balanggoy said smuggled crops were still being spotted in major markets in the country despite a Senate investigation into the deluge of smuggled vegetables.
“Smuggling is more brazen now than ever. In previous years, those peddling smuggled carrots do it covertly, usually at night under the cover of darkness. But now they do it in broad daylight,” Balanggoy told the Inquirer.
Balanggoy said locally grown carrots, while of superior quality, could not compete with the smuggled ones sold at a cheaper price. As of Monday, farm-gate prices for homegrown carrots fetched between P40 and P45 per kilo and were sold in public markets at P90 to P100 a kilo while those from China were sold at P60 a kilo.
Agot Balanoy, spokesperson for League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, said they were disappointed over the seeming inaction of the government to their woes.
The group’s investigation showed smuggled carrots were directly delivered to various markets across the country, including Divisoria in Tondo, Manila; Sariaya town in Quezon province; and Urdaneta town in Pangasinan province.
“Our farmers are not subsidized by the government; they cannot compete with the low price of smuggled carrots,” said Rudy Bulawan, president of Benguet Vegetable Truckers and Traders Association.
The farmers’ caravan culminated at La Trinidad Trading Post where farmers and vegetable traders signed a “unity statement” denouncing the continued smuggling of carrots from China.
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