CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – There was no truth to the reports circulating online that carrots from China sold cheaper than locally produced ones have flooded the market, a government official said.
“Who’s afraid of Chinese carrots? Local vegetables could compete,” said Emmanuel Piñol, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairperson on his Facebook post on September 27.
It was reported that “lower-priced but obviously chemically-treated Chinese carrots have flooded the market which alarmed local vegetable farmers.
Piñol said vegetable traders have claimed that the deluge of this commodity from China has led to the dropping of prices of vegetables in the market as the imported carrots are sold at only P25 to P30 per kilo.
But Piñol said that locally grown carrots are actually much cheaper than the reported imported vegetable.
“I could only scratch my head because local carrots produced by farmers in Bukidnon Production area could be sold lower than that price range of P25 to P30 for imported carrots,” the MinDa official added.
Piñol said local grown carrots can compete with imported ones since the vegetables produced in Bukidnon are cheaper.
“In fact, the local farmers can edge out the imported carrots and other vegetables because the production cost of carrots in Miarayon, Talakag, Bukidnon is only about P5 to P6 per kilo,” he said.
At a farm gate price of P10 to P12 per kilo, Piñol said the farmers will be happy and “those local carrots could in turn be sold for less than P30 in the market with a proper logistical and distribution support from government.”
“This is where our government policy of opening up the local food and commodity market to foreign goods in the assumed ‘free and competitive market” has done injustice to our local producers,” he added.
The playing field, he said, is not even for the Filipino farmers and they could not compete with foreign farmers who are subsidized by their governments.
In countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China, for instance, their governments find a way to support their producers by enabling them access to the market and in some cases, like the Vietnam rice, marketing the farmers’ produce directly abroad, he said.
“Here in our country, we tell our farmers to be competitive forgetting that from his farm, he has to load the vegetables on horse’s back to the nearest highway and from there these are packed loaded to small trucks and brought to a consolidation area where the traders control the price,” Piñol added.
For the Filipino tillers to compete, he said the government must provide them the enabling policies, infrastructure and logistical support for them to be able to sell their produce and make a little profit.
“I have always maintained that our problem in the Philippines is not the lack of food supply, but the very poor logistical positioning system and absence of post-harvest facilities,” Piñol said.
To achieve that vision, he said the government must really step and assist local farmers.
“This was the model which we introduced through the TienDA Program when I was Agriculture Secretary and the MinDA Tienda when I moved to the Mindanao Development Authority,” he said.
Also, the solution to this problem is for government to re-organize the National Food Authority (NFA), which had been emasculated by the Rice Tariffication Law, to focus not just on rice but on other agricultural goods as well, he added.
“Then, just like how they do it in Japan, establish Food Production Consolidation Centers or in our case Regional Food Terminals where the farmers and fishermen could just deliver their produce without the need to haggle for prices,” Piñol said.
“Imagine a sight where the chicken farmer, hog farmer, vegetable farmer, fruits or even rice farmer confidently toil in the farm knowing that his produce has a fair price when he delivers this to the government operated Regional Food Terminals compete with cold storage, processing facilities and logistical support,” he said.
From there, let government do the job of repositioning the supplies to regions where these are needed, he added.
“Food Security is critical to national economic growth and security and government must be in complete control of the situation or else we would be a pathetic nation suffering from hunger while wallowing in the vastness and abundance of God-given resources,” Piñol said.