Vegetable farmers slam new Benguet traffic plan
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Vegetable farmers in Benguet are protesting a new traffic plan and a La Trinidad town government directive to close a vegetable loading area that would hurt the shipment of vegetables to Metro Manila markets.
Mayor Edna Tabanda gave farmers and truck owners until Dec. 31 to use a lot near the La Trinidad vegetable trading post for loading and unloading vegetables. The land would be leased to a developer, she said.
The lot was closed on Jan. 1, but Tabanda allowed the farmers to use it until Jan. 10 to give them time to find a new loading area.
The new policies were designed to ease traffic flow in the town and prepare new routes for trucks once the new trading facility, called the Agri Pinoy Center, opens in two years.
The town government also banned all trucks, including those that ferry vegetables, from using the main road traversing the La Trinidad Valley that links the Halsema Highway to Baguio City.
The trucks have been blamed for daily traffic congestion in the town, officials said, and are now required to use a bypass road. The ban took effect on Dec. 20.
Many trucks using the town’s roads are owned by farmers who bring their produce to the trading post here every day, and by buyers who bring the produce to Metro Manila and other provinces.
Tabanda’s decisions have outraged farmers from different Benguet towns, who petitioned La Trinidad officials to keep their temporary loading area open to traders and truckers until the government completes the new vegetable trading facility.
December and the early weeks of January are the peak vegetable season for farmers when they harvest and sell their crops. Benguet supplies 90 percent of Metro Manila’s daily salad vegetable demand. Many go to direct buyers like grocery stores and high-end restaurants.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.