Farmers seek probe on veggie smuggling

Cheap imported carrots killing local farmers

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today urged the House of Representatives to probe the worsening smuggling of temperate or salad vegetables.

KMP leader and Anakpawis national chairperson Rafael Mariano urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to probe the proliferation of cheap and imported carrots and other vegetables in the local market and to exercise its oversight on the implementation of RA 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.

This month, a large volume of alleged smuggled fresh carrots were seen proliferating in markets nationwide according to various vegetable trading associations and cooperatives. The League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas also complained that alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets. The contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China.

Last August, local farmers, and traders called the attention of the DA on alleged hot cabbages being distributed in Divisoria market in Metro Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 per kilo.

Mariano said the DA and the Bureau of Customs must be held accountable for the smuggling of vegetables. It is within their mandate to prevent the smuggling of agri products. However, ‘legitimate imports’ and smuggled produce go through the same processes and mechanisms. Iisa lang talaga ang dinadaanan nyan. Massive importation of agricultural products made it easier for smugglers to do business.  

The inherent weaknesses of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act or RA 10845 also made it easier for smugglers to sneak in imported agricultural produce at the expense and disadvantage of our local farmers, Mariano said.

Based on the law, large-scale agricultural smuggling will only be considered economic sabotage, if the minimum amount is worth P1M for sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables or a minimum amount of P10M for rice. May lusot ang mga smugglers sa batas pero ang mga magsasakang apektado, laging talo at lugi sa imported at smuggled.

According to the Alyansa Dagiti Pesante Ti Taeng Kordilyera or APIT-TAKO, every so often, vegetable farmers are forced to throw their harvest due to spoilage because no buyers or traders would buy them at reasonable prices. Mas mura ang imported at smuggled habang nabubulok at nasasayang ang ani ng mga magsasaka. Wala nang kikitain ang mga magsasaka, lugi at may utang pa, the group said. ###

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