Editorial: Benguet in AFTA’S wrath

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THE implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) come 2015 will test the resiliency of Benguet produce as it competes with imported products.

The AFTA was formed by the Asean countries in 1993 aiming to increase ASEAN’s competitive edge in production in the world market. It will open doors for intense competition from the 10 Asean neighbors.

Eventually, AFTA implementation will push vegetable farmers to make produce world class as markets will open globally for all nations.


As the poster boy for quality Benguet products, Governor Nestor Fongwan has been drumbeating that Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) will tide local farmers come 2015, confident in their ability produce vegetables, which can be called world class, citing this as the best defense to fight the entry of foreign goods in the country.

Benguet produce, they say has a distinct taste and quality that will be preferred over imported produce when the AFTA comes into play, with the climate and famers good practice combined.

The bigger picture in the implementation of the AFTA poses is the complete package which the province can provide, from planting, harvesting, shipping, marketing and packaging produce.

The strategy will literally bring products from the fields to your table, pushing the local government to help the famers who, have been, for the longest time, focused solely on their fields.

The province is now rallying around the expansion for markets in produce to be able to stay economically viable when the AFTA is implemented in 2015, knocking on the doors of the food giants to use local produce in their store chains.

An acid test for the AFTA, as some might perceive.

Sadly, so far, not one has responded to the call of the province to go local and if this is the test for the coming AFTA, then we need to be worried.
If by now, we cannot convince our local food giants to use local products then, when the AFTA comes in 2015 we will all know which products they will prefer.

The call to go local is not only a call for the province, but a call for everyone to support local industries if only to have a fighting chance to survive the AFTA implementation.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 16, 2014.


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