By Ma. Elena Catajan
Thursday, November 8, 2012
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Governor Nestor Fongwan wants to empower farmers here so as not to lose them abroad.
Fongwan said the migration of farmers for greener pastures in other countries is a phenomenon encountered by the province with the fluctuating vegetable industry.
To address this, cooperativism is being strengthened as the vegetable industry is not as lucrative as before, the governor said.
Fongwan said the creation of the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative is a step towards enriching the farmers sector here.
The group of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who figured in an accident in Riyadh Saudi Arabia were formerly farmers from Mankayan town who opted to go abroad to work because of a slump in the vegetable industry.
Heavy equipment driver Rueben Kebeng was part of a 7-truck convoy, with Frank Marquez, Gilbert Insenas, Joemar Tangke, and Melchor Labi with Julius Tangke as passenger.
Kebeng crashed and hit a bridge and exploded in the Saudi capital, causing fire to nearby buildings and cars.
All of the drivers were farmers here who flew to Saudi to have higher income, leaving the vegetable trade in the province.
Fongwan said the industry is based heavily on a supply and demand basis.
“That is why we want to assure quality, sustainability as well as supply,” he said adding that an alliance for vegetable producing areas should be formed in preparation for the Asean’s Free Trade Area implementation in 2015.
He said proper packaging, sorting, value-adding and other improvisation should be done to be able to cater to the high end markets.