LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Farmers in these highlands are pushing for the revival of anti-smuggling task forces at the national and provincial levels to stem the wanton entry of smuggled vegetables, especially carrots, into the Philippine market.

Benguet-based Augusta Balanoy, speaking on behalf of the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas, Inc. on Thursday, decried how smuggled carrots have been flooding the market causing prices to slide down.

Ms. Balanoy claimed the prices have been driven down to P1 a kilo, forcing local producers in this province to either give out their produce or leave them to rot in the farms.

She said they want the government to revive the task forces to see the situation on the ground. “At least, there would be people in authority watching the markets against distributors of smuggled goods,” she said in Filipino.

In late December, the peak time for disposing of Benguet vegetable produce due to increased demand during the Yuletide season, farmers experienced a significant downturn.

The market was flooded with smuggled vegetables that were not only cheaper and larger but also had a longer shelf life. This influx left farmers with the difficult choice of either giving away their produce for free or allowing it to rot in Northern Benguet farms.

Adding to the farmers’ challenges was the blatant fraud associated with the smuggled vegetables found in markets nationwide. These products were deceitfully labeled as “A.B.C. Baguio” in an attempt to conceal their illicit origin.

Ms. Balanoy said that as early as late July, there had been volumes of smuggled carrots, broccoli and cauliflowers unloaded through various ports. “Nothing happened even if we sought the agriculture department’s intercession,” she said. — Artemio A. Dumlao