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Highland vegetable farmers and traders roll out caravan vs smuggling

Drumming up their campaign versus continuous flooding of smuggled vegetables in various markets around the country, the farmers and traders in Benguet and nearby areas, aboard vegetable trucks and other vehicles roam the streets of Benguet in a caravan against vegetable smuggling.

Highland vegetable farmers and traders and support groups assembled Monday morning in various vegetable trading areas in La Trinidad and converged along the Pico Road, then proceeded to Puguis Road and Buyagan area before ending at the Benguet Provincial capitol.

After trooping to the Provincial capitol to seek provincial officials support, farmers and traders went to Halsema Highway, the main route of farmers in transporting their vegetable products.

“We, the stakeholders of the Benguet/Cordillera Vegetable Industry, denounce the continuous smuggling of carrots from China, flooding the key markets of Manila and other provinces, killing our local carrot production and eventually our farmers. We appeal to all concerned government agencies please act and put a stop to the illegal entry of carrots and other agricultural products,” stated in the tarpaulin signed by caravan participants and traders at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post.

According to the League of Associations at La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, smuggled carrots were spotted at Divisoria market in Tondo Manila and also in the market of Sariaya, Quezon. The League argued that the entry of the carrots from China is not allowed in the international free trade agreements like the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade-World Trade Agreement (GATT-WTO) among others.

The group also stressed that fresh carrots and cabbages are not included in the list of the Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) of allowed vegetables from China to enter the country.

Agot Balanoy of the League said, they are really disappointed on the seemingly inaction of Benguet officials and concerned agencies. “The fact that we have been complaining since July 2021, yet up to now, lantaran pa rin ang pagdistribute ng carrots,” she lamented.

Balanoy also criticized the interagency task force led by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for not acting on the issue. She said that they have done nothing considering that a Senate investigation on vegetable smuggling has started and there are non-stop complaints from them and other affected stakeholders. “Its a big disappointment.

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