ADDITIONAL cold storage facilities are being constructed in Nueva Ecija to prolong shelf life of the farmers' onion produce.

On March 16, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 3 (Central Luzon) announced the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the facility that can hold up to 20,000 bags of onion in Barangay San Vicente, Laur town.

"Ang nasabing pasilidad ay ipagkakaloob ng Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka sa pamamagitan ng High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) (The said facility of the DA is under the High Value Crops Development Program)."

This cold storage facility will benefit the San Vicente Alintutuan Irrigators Association.

The HVCDP is one of the banner programs of the Department of Agriculture created to help address food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable growth.

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It helps to promote the production, processing, marketing and distribution of high-value crops.

"Alam naman natin na ang isyu sa sibuyas ay maraming cold storage ang mai-put up sa lalawigan para 'yun mga farmers ay may pagdadalhan ng kanilang mga ani (We know that the issue in onion is the need to have plenty of cold storages in the town for the farmers to store their produce)," said Bernie Valdez, chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.

The first cold storage facility that broke ground was in Calancuasan Sur, Cuyapo, which will benefit Calancuasan Sur Farmers Association.

Last month, Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop cold storage facilities in Nueva Ecija, among others, to decrease the losses of the farmers.

According to the farmers, the insufficiency of cold storage facilities contributed to losses of their harvest and revenues.

Moreover, it can be recalled that farmers complained to the DTI about the mismanagement of cold storage facilities.

Aside from lack of cold storage facilities, the farmers also called for removing middlemen or businessmen from managing the cold storage facilities.

"Kaya nga sinasabi natin na (That's why we are saying that) the farmers will have to get organized into cooperatives so they'll be in control of their cold storage in their area," Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual explained.