Veggie demand slump due to glut, say farmers | Inquirer News

Veggie demand slump due to glut, say farmers

/ 01:39 AM March 24, 2012

BAGUIO CITY—Truckers who ship Metro Manila’s daily vegetable supply from Benguet have been spending P1,000 more on gasoline due to the series of increases in pump prices since January, but this was not the reason for the vegetable demand slump felt here, a farmers’ group said on Friday.

Agot Balanoy, executive director of farmers’ rights group, farmers D.O.T.net, denied television news reports aired during the nationwide transport strike on March 15, which attributed poor vegetable sales at the La Trinidad vegetable trading post to high fuel prices.

The reports quoted traders who claimed that high gasoline prices have been discouraging truckers from shipping Benguet vegetables to the Divisoria market in Manila.

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Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said vegetable prices in Metro Manila never changed when news about the supposed impact of high fuel costs on vegetable demand were aired.

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Maglaya was here on Friday to verify reports connecting the drop in vegetable demand to fuel costs.

Balanoy informed her that trucks, which ferry vegetables from farms in Buguias town to the La Trinidad trading post, used to spend P4,500 on fuel but have since increased their expenses to P5,500.

She said buyers from Divisoria spend from P8,000 to P9,000 for their trucks’ fuel, but have since been spending from P10,000 to P12,000.

However, the average number of trucks hauling salad vegetables, like potatoes, cabbages and carrots, have not changed significantly before and after the latest fuel increase this month, Balanoy said.

Her group’s monitoring chart showed that 181 vegetable trucks bound for Divisoria left the trading post between
March 5 and 11, a period marked by farmers D.O.T.net as days “before fuel increase.”

In a section marked “after fuel increase,” the chart showed that 172 trucks bound for Divisoria left the trading post from March 16 to 22.

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Before the fuel increase, 124 trucks bound for the vegetable wholesale market in Balintawak, Quezon City, and other Metro Manila markets left the trading post, while 275 trucks bound for other Luzon provinces bought vegetables in La Trinidad from March 5 to 11, the group said.

After the fuel increase, 118 trucks bound for Balintawak and 297 trucks bound for other Luzon provinces transported Benguet vegetables from
March 16 to 22, it said.

The most recent price hike took place on March 21, the day the government approved a provisional 50-centavo increase in jeepney fares in most parts of the country.

Balanoy said oversupply may account for the low demand affecting farmers and traders.

“The farmers were trying to avoid the low prices of potatoes that affected their profits in 2011, so many stored their planting materials until this year. But everyone planted potatoes anyway, which explained the glut,” she told Maglaya.

Balanoy said the summer rains also spoiled the farmers’ cabbage harvests, which could have disrupted supplies.

Given this information, Maglaya said the Department of Trade and Industry would instead investigate the vegetable supply chain because Metro Manila consumers still pay double for Benguet vegetables.

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Balanoy said farmers are still held hostage by traders, who buy their produce at a lower price and then sell these at a higher price to make up for several layers of payoffs they make as they deliver their produce to Metro Manila. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

TAGS: Agriculture, Trade, Vegetable

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