Sec. Tiu Laurel’s Push for Cordillera Agriculture Growth

Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. recently spearheaded a town hall meeting with key stakeholders in the highland vegetable industry. The meeting, held at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center on January 26, 2024, aimed to explore ways to further develop the farm sector and increase income in the Cordillera region.

Addressing the participants, Secretary Tiu Laurel emphasized the importance of consultation in formulating policies that align with the aspirations of both the government and the industry. He stated, “This is a genuine consultation to ensure that we have policies that you want and that we also desire in the government, to achieve President Marcos’ vision of a New Philippines. Everything new. A new direction to improve the lives of every Filipino.”

The dialogue brought together various stakeholders, including government officials, farmer leaders, traders, truckers, market facilitators, agricultural extension workers, and municipal and provincial agriculturists from Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province. Secretary Tiu Laurel reassured them that the Department of Agriculture (DA) had not forgotten about their concerns. He expressed the government’s commitment to prioritize the needs of the cabbage, tomato, carrot, and potato sectors, along with other agricultural commodities.

Highlighting the purpose of his visit, Secretary Tiu Laurel acknowledged the challenges faced by the vegetable industry and emphasized the goal of aligning strategies to reduce production costs for farmers and increase their income. He stated, “We need to lower the overall cost of production while maintaining or increasing farmers’ earnings. This is something we should carefully consider and work together on, to ensure the happiness of both farmers and consumers.”

During the consultation, Secretary Tiu Laurel pledged to translate these efforts into tangible results for the nation. He specifically focused on meeting the country’s expectations of providing ample food supply, lowering commodity prices, and improving efficiency while minimizing costs.

Several issues were raised during the town hall meeting, including the high cost of farm inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, the lack of market outlets for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-certified products, concerns about unrecognized food lane passes by authorities, and issues related to smuggling.

To address these concerns, Secretary Tiu Laurel outlined a series of initiatives. These include establishing facilities nationwide similar to those found in the Food Terminal Inc., creating market outlets for GAP-certified products, expanding KADIWA stores in Metro Manila, enforcing laws related to vegetable and fisheries trading, ensuring the strict implementation of EO 41, which suspended collection of fees by local government units from vehicles transporting goods, and providing support to the cut flower industry in the region.

Regarding smuggling, Secretary Tiu Laurel emphasized the government’s commitment to combat it. He assured stakeholders that a new anti-smuggling bill with more teeth would be introduced. He also called on industry stakeholders to actively partner with the DA in eradicating the smuggling of agricultural products.

Secretary Tiu Laurel commended the dialogue as a conducive platform for a vibrant exchange of ideas. He urged stakeholders to work together, envisioning a scenario where farmers and consumers mutually benefit. He expressed enthusiasm for the crafting of policies that would govern the vegetable industry, contributing to the realization of the Bagong Pilipinas campaign for the advancement of all Filipinos.

During his visit to the BAPTC premises, Secretary Tiu Laurel observed the need for improvements to optimize the trading center’s operations. He assured stakeholders that these concerns would be thoroughly addressed as part of the broader initiative to elevate the agricultural sector.

Secretary Tiu Laurel’s town hall meeting with highland vegetable industry stakeholders marks a significant step towards the development and growth of the farm sector in the Cordillera region. With the government’s commitment and the active participation of all stakeholders, there is great potential to enhance the lives of Filipino farmers and consumers alike.


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