By Zaldy Comanda
BAGUIO CITY – The suspension of crowd drawing events here in Benguet province, as well as recent lockdowns in tourism destinations, due to the threat of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has taken its toll on local farmers with the prices of highland vegetables experiencing drastic drops.
Agot Balanoy, head of the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative, said that the first quarter of the year is proving to be very difficult time for highland vegetable farmers with the drop in orders from hotels, restaurants, and resorts because only a few local and foreign visitors were arriving in the province.
Balanoy also said that the cancellation of festivals and fiestas nationwide has caused the drop of the demand for vegetables.
“It has been a while that prices of vegetables have gone below the production cost. But it is really due to the low demand for the vegetables,” said Balanoy.
An estimated 130,000 farmers in Benguet supply highland vegetables in different markets nationwide aside from the farmers in Bauko, Mountain Province and Tinoc, Ifugao.
The prices of vegetables have remained at below the cost of production in La Trinidad, except for potatoes where the prices have stayed stable from P45 to P55 per kilo,Balanoy added.
Joel Cervantes, municipal information officer of La Trinidad and the designated supervisor at the La Trinidad Trading Post, said prices of vegetables vary from hour to hour depending on the demand.
He cited as an example the prices of cabbage varieties and quality on February 10.
He said “for the first class vegetables, wholesale buying price, the cabbage mighty ball was P4 to P8 per kilo, cabbage rare ball green P6 to P10, Wombok P6 to 10, Scorpio cabbage P10 to P14, and carrots P10 to P15.
He said that on February 28, as of 8:30 a.m, prices of these vegetables have further dropped with that for the cabbage mighty ball falling to P3 to P6 per kilo, cabbage rare ball green P4 to P7, Wombok P5 to 10, Scorpio cabbage green P6 to P10, and Carrots P12 to P16.