SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya: Farmers in this province on Wednesday expressed concern over imported fruits and vegetables which are competing directly with locally-grown produce.
Nueva Vizcaya is known not only for its vegetables reaching Baguio City and Metro Manila but also for fruits such as citrus, banana, guava, calamansi, dragon fruit, alimuran (rattan fruit), rambutan, mango, chico, caimito (star apple), guyabano, pineapple and many more.
“We are so worried that these quality fruits from other countries, besides being so cheap, have been gaining popularity and what is left behind is our very own national fruits,” said Leo Divina, a fruits and vegetables grower in Dupax del Norte.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), however, said the fruit industry in the province should not be apprehensive but instead “upgrade and sustain the quality of their products” in the wake of the Association of South East Asian Nation (Asean) integration or trade liberalization.
DA Assistant Secretary Orlan Calayag said with the Asean integration expected to start next year, “the country may not be ready yet but in some, we are now ready”.
Calayag, who was guest speaker during the 22nd Fruit Industry Symposium at the High Lander Hotel and Resort here, said the DA has been preparing for this for a long time now “but the problem is on communicating how we should all be prepared”.
He said that the country’s agri-based products have been liberalized by 98 percent except for rice.
“For rice, the DA has asked for an extension before being covered by the Asean integration,” he said.
“There is however bright prospects in the fruit industry which include world-class competitive quality and volume of banana, mango and pineapple,” Calayag said.
He said these fruit products now even dominate the United States, Asia and Europe markets.
Meanwhile, the DA has now introduced measures to regulate the entry of high quality fruit products and other agri-based products as well as to prevent the entry of low-quality agricultural products in the country.