A BILL seeking to give the Department of Agriculture (DA) the authority to regulate farmgate prices for highly perishable vegetables has been filed in the House of Representatives.
“Considering the extremely low farmgate price of such highly perishable crops, not only are the livelihoods of farmers being killed, but these farmers are left to fend for themselves following the huge losses in revenue,” Benguet Rep. Eric G. Yap wrote in House Bill No. 9889.
Citing a Jan. 9 GMA News report, Mr. Yap said farmers in Tublay, Benguet have been forced to sell cabbages for between P3 and P15 per kilogram due to oversupply.
The low prices typically are caused by overproduction ahead of major holidays, combined with rampant smuggling, he added.
Under the bill, the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, an arm of the DA, is tasked with devising standards on which to base the setting of farmgate prices for highly perishable vegetables.
“This Act shall not be interpreted with the intent of shunning prices above the standard farmgate price as this Act only seeks to impose a standard farmgate price which will only serve as a baseline for pricing,” according to a copy of the bill.
In the event of a surplus, the DA must buy vegetables from registered farmers at the farmgate price to avoid waste and to effectively guarantee a certain income level for each harvest. When supplies are adequate, government agencies are also required to buy produce from farmers to supply their food-related programs.
The proposed law also requires farmers to register highly perishable vegetable crops for price and supply monitoring.
The bill calls for an inter-agency council to monitor farmgate prices, with the Secretary of Agriculture chairing. Other members of the council are the Secretaries of Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government, and the National Economic and Development Authority.
The bill is with the House food and agriculture committee. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz