There's an urgent need to address the country’s lack of post-harvest facilities, which could have contributed to the low local production and soaring prices of commodities such as onions.
Thus, said AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee as he renewed his call for the creation of more post-harvest facilities at the heels of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food briefing on the state of the country’s onion industry last Jan. 25.
During the hearing, it was highlighted how the lack of such facilities have forced farmers to sell their harvest goods at a "giveaway" price, and left them completely at the mercy of abusive middlemen and traders.
“Ito yung sinasabi na natin noon pang nakaraang budget hearing na kailangang aksyunan agad. Napakalaki ng diperensya sa pondong ipinagkakaloob para sa pre-harvest activities kumpara sa inilalaan sa post-harvest facilities and services (This is the issue we said back during the budget hearings that needed immediate action. The fund allocated to pre-harvest activities is too lopsided compared to the allocation for post-harvest facilities and services)," reckoned Lee, a rookie congressman.
"Napakaraming dinadaanan ng produkto bago makarating sa merkado (The product passed through so many channels before if reaches the market). The government must improve and facilitate farm to market linkages and provide additional support to post-harvest facilities,” the solon from Sorsogon said.
Under the 2023 national budget, P48.23 billion was earmarked for pre-harvest activities while P17.14 billion was alloted for post-harvest facilities and services.
A big chunk of the budget for post-harvest facilities this year will be implemented by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Lee said he personally met and talked to PhilMech Director Dr. Dionisio Alvindia during last year’s budget briefings and in several occasions reiterated the need to expeditiously provide more support to post-harvest facilities, to which the latter agreed and committed to implement.
“Patuloy tayong magbabantay at makikipag-ugnayan sa DA (Department of Agriculture) at PhilMech sa usaping ito. Hindi dapat hinahayaang matengga ang pondo. Dapat gamitin ito agad sa mga pasilidad na magpapataas sa kita at produksyon ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda, na magpapababa naman sa presyo ng bilihin (We continue to coordinate with the DA and PhilMech on this issue. The funds shouldn't remain unutilized. These should be tapped immediately for facilities that would help raise farmers and fishers' earnings and production, which would in turn reduce prices of basic goods)," he said.