US veggies too pricey

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Monday, July 21, 2014

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Governor Nestor Fongwan is keeping his cool over the reported entry of vegetable produce from the United States.

News broke last week on the entry of US produce after the lifting of restrictions on import of temperate vegetables from the US to the Philippines.

An article from the US Embassy website published the lifting of restrictions stating, "The Philippines formally lifted restrictions on the import of these temperate climate vegetables, which are difficult to grow locally, from producers in the United States. This exciting development will relieve shortages and deepen agricultural ties between the two nations."


Fongwan said despite reported entry of US produce in the country, Benguet farmers need not worry.

"Their cost of production as well as cost of transport is high, they cannot compete with our prices," the governor said.

Fongwan said there will be small and almost insignificant niche market, which will be receptive to the US produce adding, "Only the elite will be able to afford this."

The US embassy article stated, "American producers previously enjoyed only limited access to the Philippine vegetable market, exporting $57,000 of such products (mostly celery) in 2013. Trade experts predict that open market access will help these sales to reach $1 million within two years. Such commerce will be an asset to the burgeoning food service and retail sectors in the Philippines."

"The agreement reached with the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) ensures that all fresh vegetable shipments will have a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Phytosanitary Certificate. This is to verify that the shipments meet all the stipulations of the Plant Quarantine SPS Import Clearance. As with all fresh vegetable trade, importers will be required to obtain an SPS Import Permit from the DA Bureau of Plant Industry," the article added.

Farmers groups expressed their worry about the entry of US produce, which might affect demand for Benguet vegetables, however, the governor said end markets will most likely chose local produce for their freshness and price rather than the imported products that will come.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 22, 2014.

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