AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said a planeload of fresh vegetables from Mindanao is expected to arrive by Thursday and will sell in the markets for about half the usual Metro Manila price.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Piñol said the shipment is expected to provide competition to “profiteers” who were using typhoon damage in the Cordilleras as pretext to raise vegetable prices to over P200 per kilogram for carrots and P120 for cabbages.
“If the vultures and the profiteers who have long sucked the blood of our hapless consumers believe that happy days are here again for them, they are terribly wrong. Tomorrow, the first plane-load of fresh vegetables from Mindanao will be arriving in Metro Manila,” Mr. Piñol said.
“The shipment includes carrots, cabbage, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, sili (chili pepper) and others which will be sold at half the prevailing price in Metro Manila markets,” Mr. Piñol added.
According to Mr. Piñol, the Department of Agriculture was able to engage a company that owns two cargo planes and will also tap the Department of National Defense’s C-130 transport fleet to deliver vegetables, fish and fruit from Mindanao to supply markets in Metro Manila.
Produce from Mindanao was committed by Mindanao farmers, particularly those from Bukidnon, to augment supply in the capital region after typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) struck northern and Central Luzon, which are important suppliers of these goods to Metro Manila.
“Next week, at least six refrigerated containers of vegetables from Mindanao will be shipped to Metro Manila every week to beef up the supply and bring down the price,” Mr. Piñol said.
These goods, along with dressed chicken, rice and fish will be sold at below-market at the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Compound in San Andres, Manila.
The DA’s TienDA Malasakit Food Outlets will also be open every Friday and Saturday thereafter until market prices for these goods stabilize.
According to Mr. Piñol, the DA will also extend loan facilities to highland vegetable producers in Cebu and Negros Oriental to develop 50,000 hectares of new farms. The DA is also scheduled next week to release P250 million worth of production loans to farmers in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, and North Cotabato.
“By the middle of 2019, it is projected that these new areas, in addition to the vegetables produced in the Cordilleras, will make the country self-sufficient in vegetables,” Mr. Piñol said.
“The vegetables produced under this program will be marketed by the farmers themselves so that they will earn more and the consumers will spend less,” Mr. Piñol added.
He also noted that the DA will eventually expand its TienDA Malasakit Stores to every barangay in coordination with local government units.
On Wednesday, the DA reported that damage and losses to the agriculture sector caused by Ompong was estimated at P16.76 billion, affecting a total of 636,908 hectares with an estimated volume losses of 731,294 metric tons, in Regions I to IV-A.
Damage and losses to the rice crop accounted for 68.30% or P11.45 billion of the total. Affected rice-growing areas were estimated at 474,838 hectares. Provinces heavily affected include Nueva Ecija, which suffered damage estimated at P2.84 billion, and Cagayan at P2.77 billion.
The initial estimate for damage and losses to fisheries was at P6.94 million. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio