A P20-MILLION food processing facility in La Trinidad, Benguet will be established in order to reduce waste from unsold crops, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said.

In a statement, Mr. Dar said the La Trinidad processing facility will complement the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) and is geared towards adding value to vegetables and fruits produced by farmers in Benguet and elsewhere in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

During the quarantine, when the area’s produce farmers lost access to key markets, growers in Tinoc, Ifugao reportedly dumped their unsold tomatoes.

“There should be no reason for farmers to lose when harvest is abundant. Dumping will not happen again,” Mr. Dar said.

DA-CAR Regional Executive Director Cameron P. Odsey said that the DA regional office has negotiated with other vegetable buyers to purchase tomatoes from farmers in Tinoc and nearby areas.

“As of June 14, the Tinoc farmers were linked to eleven groups of new buyers, purchasing a total of 26 metric tons of tomatoes. This week, the farmers were able to sell 18.5 metric tons of tomatoes, totalling P166,000. Moreover, seven other private buyer-entities committed to procure vegetables from other production areas in the region,” Mr. Odsey said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dar said the food processing facility will also serve as a learning and training center for farmers interested in processing their harvest into high-value products.

“We want our Filipino farmers to be more than growers. We want them to become entrepreneurs. This move will level up their game, and give them more financial benefits,” Mr. Dar said.

Funding for the P20-million food processing facility will come from the Bureau of Agricultural Research for disbursal to Benguet State University, which oversees the management of the BAPTC. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave