• Frost damage on crops negligible; profiteering traders warned

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday warned unscrupulous traders who are taking advantage of the reported frost incidence in Northern Luzon, and selling their vegetable products way above prevailing market prices.

    In a press conference, Jenny Remoquillo, director of the DA’s High Value Crop Development Program, said that they are now coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry for possible sanctions against traders caught overpricing vegetable products.

    “Based on the result of our monitoring team, there should not be any increase in the prices of vegetables from Benguet as damage due to frost remained negligible,” Remoquilo said.

    Benguet accounts for nearly three-fourths of Metro Manila’s supply of semi-temperate vegetables, such as cabbage, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, beans and bokchoy (petsay).

    She also noted that the recent uptick in prices of vegetable at the start of the year was a result of increased demand as people go back to Metro Manila after the long holiday.

    “It’s an issue of supply and demand as people go back from their vacation. But it should not be drastic . . . about P1 increase is enough,” the official said.

    The director said that they are now coordinating with alternative suppliers of upland vegetable from Nueva Vizcaya, Laguna and Quezon provinces to keep prices stable.

    To address frosting in Benguet, Remoquillo said that they are now mobilizing all resources to address frosting on vegetables in three-affected barangay of Benguet, adding that they expect no further incident until cold weather dissipate by February.

    To date, only three hectares of cultivation areas for semi-temperate vegetables (such as cabbage, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, beans and pechay) in Barangay Paoay, Atok and Barangay Madaymen in Kibungan town were affected by the frost.

    “Of the total affected areas, only a fourth of a hectare was totally damaged. The value of damage was placed at P335,000,” she said.

    “The damage remain minimal considering that Paoay has 633 hectares, while Madaymen has 97 hectares dedicated for vegetable cultivation,” she added.

    Meanwhile, Remoquillo said that they have already positioned short- and long-term interventions, noting that they have earmarked P5-million grant to be released by the DA-Cordillera Administrative Region for the procurement of equipment and installation of new irrigation system.

    “This week, we will also deliver 10 units of power sprayers, 50 plastic drums, and plastic sheets that would be used to repair damaged rain shelters. The equipment will arrive this week to help farmers prevent reoccurrence of frosting,” she said.

    A team of engineers will also design a so-called step-up irrigation system that would improve water supply in upland areas as part of the long-term solution to frosting, which has become an annual incident, Remoquillo noted.

    At present, vegetable farmers are still using small community reservoirs for their water supply.

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