By Zaldy Comanda

BAGUIO CITY — Amidst the price drop of cruciferous vegetables in the province of Benguet, the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR) unfurled a plan that is expected to arrest the problem from worsening in the coming days.

The monitored price for cabbage, this year, is generally good with a low of P10.53 (January) to a high of P53.33 (June). The drop in the price of the commodity started in the second week of August at P8.00 per kilo.

The issue once again popped up recently on social media when the price for Chinese cabbage in the last two days ranged from P4.00-10.00; although for the past few days, the price hovered at P5.00-20.00.

DA Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey said, that the DA continues to implement its mandate under the Plant, Plant, Plant Program to ensure food accessibility, affordability, and availability.

Under this program, the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita was implemented that benefitted farmers and consumers.

The Kadiwa Program is using appropriate strategies like the Kadiwa on Wheels, Kadiwa Retailing, and Kadiwa Express to market farm products direct to consumers allowing people to have better access to food while under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

As of August 14, 2020, data from the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) shows that a total of 101 areas were reached by the Kadiwa on Wheels program and its services wherein a total of 27,08 kgs of assorted vegetables were sold.This has a generated sales of P 939,360.00

Under Kadiwa Retail Store established in the DA-CAR compound, the AMAD directly linked nine farmer groups to consumers and they were able to sell 17,742 kg of assorted vegetables with a total amount P1,346,288.

For the Kadiwa Express which extends assistance to farmers by linking them directly to buyers in other areas and providing transport assistance, a total of P21,747,182 were generated from a total of 768,070 kg vegetables sold.

To date, 23 farmers group were linked, 54 non-government organizations assisted and eight LGUs were assisted through the Kadiwa Express.

Odsey said though these initiatives, especially in this time of the pandemic, the farmers have earned better income with mark-up prices that should have accrued as income for the traditional traders going to them.

Amidst the price drop of cruciferous vegetables in the province of Benguet, the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR) unfurled a plan that is expected to arrest the problem from worsening price of cabbage in Benguet. (Photo by Zaldy Comanda)

Under the current plan to arrest the falling prices of highland vegetables, particularly cabbage, the DA, will enhance its Kadiwa Express activities targeting the delivery of 20 metric tons of cabbage per week to Metro Manila and other markets in Luzon. This will be undertaken until September in partnership with five farmer organizations.

The Kadiwa on Wheels and Kadiwa Retail Stores shall also be sustained to sell vegetables, with more cabbage sold at 4.2 tons per week.

In the medium-term (September-December),Odsey said that the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) must evolve and adopt a new role as a “buyer of last resort” during the occurrence of excess as oversupply of vegetables in the Cordillera region.

Under this role, the BAPTC shall procure all the excess and low priced-vegetables on a daily basis at prevailing wholesale prices and to be paid in cash. The volume of vegetables that cannot be absorbed by the BAPTC can be sold through the KADIWA modalities. Also, the BAPTC will help in marketing the processed vegetables.

To complement the operation of BAPTC as a “buyer of last resort,” a P20 million agri processing center project is funded by the department and will be established soon.

Other medium to long-term activities targeted under the plan looks into the continued expansion and development of new markets for vegetables, linking of farmers to financing institutions, and assisting an increasing number of vegetable farmer associations and groups that will benefit from the KADIWA program and other production and credit programs of the DA.