LA TRINIDAD: Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan on Tuesday called on the academe to start talking about the effects of the Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement and instituting good agricultural practices to be at par with our neighboring countries upon the implementation of the AFTA next year.
Fongwan, who was guest of honor and speaker during the 98th Foundation Anniversary of the Benguet State University (BSU), said that “while there is more money in circulation if we talk about mining industry, there are more people depending on the vegetable industry that is why let us not allow the vegetable industry to collapse”.
More than 50 percent of the people in Benguet depend on agriculture as livelihood.
The AFTA will lift trade quotas and adopt zero tariffs on the importation of vegetables and other agricultural products. It aims to increase the Asean region’s competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market.
Fongwan said the Benguet’s vegetable industry is most likely to be threatened by China which has the same production, even the same variety of semi-temperate vegetables grown.
“Let us now start educating our farmers on how we are going to compete your program now on organic production which is one of the solutions that would save the vegetable industry,” Fongwan said.
“We have to inculcate in the minds of our people the importance of practicing good agricultural practices,” he added.
Fongwan pointed out that if there is an overproduction in China, it finds its way in Third
World countries like the Philippines because “we have allegedly very lax laws and regulations, that’s why we should see to it that good agricultural practice shall be in place”.
Fongwan also stressed that by 2015, quarantine laws should be fully enforced. The Bureau of Plant Industry should be the one to inspect inland bound vessels and no longer personnel from the Bureau of Customs, he said.