THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will build a P500-million cold storage facility for stockpiling vegetables and other high-value crops in Taguig City.
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. said the facility will rise on a 1.3-hectare site at the Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) complex.
“The facility will also be equipped with a processing plant and trading area, and will prioritize farmers’ produce for buffer stocking,” Mr. Laurel said in a statement on Monday.
He said the availability of cold storage will minimize post-harvest losses and allow commodities to be stored during periods of oversupply.
He added that half of the facility will employ evaporator-type storage for short-term storage of high-value crops, while the rest will use coil-type equipment for longer-term storage.
“The immediate problem I see is the oversupply, from time to time, of tomatoes and cabbage. So, we should build storage at FTI immediately,” Mr. Laurel said. “My direction is to build a network of cold storage (facilities).”
Separately, DA Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Arnel V. de Mesa said: “The Secretary’s plan is to put up a network of cold storage facilities in La Union or Baguio, Taguig, Quezon, and Mindoro. The primary focus would be mainly on vegetables and then other commodities,” Mr. De Mesa told reporters on Monday.
“They are programmed for this year,” he added.
Additionally, Mr. Laurel said that the DA is also organizing a logistics office, which will centralize all agriculture logistics management matters, including the operations of FTI.
“All DA cold storage (functions) will be transferred to the logistics office, which will conduct an inventory of all facilities within the Philippines,” he added.
Mr. De Mesa said that the new logistics office will help reduce post-harvest crop losses.
“We are expecting… that losses will be reduced by more than P10 billion. Eventually, the ones who will benefit the most from this are the farmers, because the losses they currently experience are large,” he added.
Mr. De Mesa said there are currently no oversupply problems with vegetables.
“If we look at the data, we can see that there was a slight decline, year on year, in overall production. But during the last quarter, there was an increase in some highland vegetables because there were no typhoons,” he added.
Last week, farmers from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) urged the government to intervene due to the low price offered by traders for highland vegetables, forcing them to dump their crops.
The DA’s regional office in CAR reported that the drop in prices was due to a lack of buyers for the crops between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3.
Mr. Laurel had ordered FTI to purchase excess crops from producers and sell them in Kadiwa centers.
“Kung may overproduction, kaysa itapon, bilhin na lang ng FTI, mailalagay pa natin iyan sa Kadiwa program (For any instances of overproduction, FTI needs to buy the excess rather than leave the produce to be dumped. Those items can be sold via Kadiwa stores). The plan is also to strengthen the Kadiwa program ng DA,” he added, referring to the government-supported store network offering produce purchased directly from producers. — Adrian H. Halili