By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday called for immediate government intervention on farmers who were hit by huge losses due to oversupply and low prices of farm produce.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Angara also urged the government to put in place long-term solutions to make farming sustainable instead of just giving loans to affected farmers “as this is just a short-term solution.”
“What we need are solutions that are sustainable in the long-run such as providing them assistance in marketing their produce or facilities to process their harvest,” Angara said.
Angara made the call following reports that farmers in the Cordillera region were reportedly forced to throw away tons of vegetables they harvested last week as prices have taken a dive due to overproduction and the lack of means to transport the harvest to the market.
It was also reported that traders were not able to buy the produce to transport to Bicol and the Visayas due to flooding brought by Tropical Depression Usman. Bicol is part of the overland supply route to the Visayas connected by ferries.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced that farmers who lost their produce could avail of a loan of up to P50,000 at six percent annual interest under the agency’s Production Loan Easy Access.
But the senator said the government, particularly the DA, should heed the call of farmers for the building of more and bigger processing facilities to address oversupply.
“Farmers could easily go out of business if there is a glut in supply because prices can plummet below cost,” Angara pointed out.
He said that processing facilities, such as the Benguet Agri-Pino Trading Center, can prolong the shelf life of farm produce since they have dry and cold storage facilities.
“Kung may mas marami at malaking processing facility, mas marami sanang gulay ang na-preserve habang hinihintay nating humupa ang baha sa Bicol (If there were many and bigger processing facility, there would be more vegetables that could have been preserved while we are waiting for the floods to subside in Bicol,” Angara pointed out.
Angara said he hopes there will be greater government intervention regarding facilities and the use of technology to help farmers operate effectively.
He also said the government could also help farmers find the best price for their crops by dealing directly with large buyers.
Angara said he believes that the focus of the government should be on supporting farmers if it wants to lift the ailing agriculture sector.