Traders undercharge Cordillera farmers
During the first quarter of 2019, farmgate prices of vegetables dropped in various trading posts in Cordillera. Traders set prices of cabbage and carrots at P1/kilo purportedly due to oversupply.
These vegetable farmers (also called gardeners in Cordillera) who have already been battered by monsoons and typhoons Rosita and Ompong are already suffering huge losses and are mired in debts.
Despite low farmgate prices, vegetables prices in public markets continue to rise. Average prices of vegetables are at P65/kilo in big cities like Manila. This is because big vegetable traders and financiers who act as middlemen control vegetable prices in markets. These traders, in cahoots with other traders, buy farmers’ crops at very low prices, then overcharge the same products. Because of this, vegetable prices in public markets remain high.
All the government can offer is crop-insurance which the farmers pay for. Those who don’t have insurance can borrow P25,000 to sustain their daily needs. But farmers maintain that such amount, and even the P35,000 offered by Department of Agriculture, is insufficient as it only covers 1/4 of the capital needed to cultivate an hectare of vegetable farm.
This also doesn’t resolve the main issue of oversupply brought about by excessive importation. Prices of vegetables drop as foreign products swamp the market and compete with local vegetables. Through the all-out liberalization policy on agriculture by the Duterte regime, foreign big capitalists can freely enter the Philippine economy without paying taxes. Using big local traders, they sell vegetables according to their prices.