The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is planning to set up a trading center in Metro Manila to help farmers and food producers market and sell their products.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol made the pronouncement, after farmers in Benguet complained of losses due to the removal of vegetable vendors in Divisoria.
“I have long dreamed of and planned the establishment of a Farmers’ Trading Center in Metro Manila to allow provincial food producers to display their products, which could be sold on a wholesale basis,” Piñol said on his Facebook page.
He said he received reports over the weekend that Cordillera-based vegetable farmers are “losing money and facing a crisis,” after Manila City Mayor Joseph E. Estrada ordered the clearance of Divisoria’s streets.
“Vegetable traders have reportedly reduced the volume of the vegetables they buy from the highland farmers, because they were facing difficulties in selling these in Manila’s traditional vegetable market,” Piñol said. The envisioned trading center, he said, would feature various kinds of produce from different regions of the country.
“Vegetables, fruits, native chicken, goats, pork, organic farm eggs and others could be put on display in the Farmers’ Trading Center, allowing the farmers to sell their produce without going through the rigors of looking for buyers and a place to sell their products,” he said.
“Live crabs, high-value live fish, shrimps and even dried fish coming from Sulu, Zamboanga, Surigao, Samar, Leyte, Iloilo, Palawan, Mindoro and Quezon could also be sold wholesale in the Farmers’ Trading Center,” he added.
Earlier, Estrada ordered a massive cleanup of Manila sidewalks, removing illegal vendors and street hawkers along the streets of Divisoria, Blumentritt and Santa Cruz districts to decongest traffic in the city. Around 2,000 illegal vendors, including vegetable sellers, were affected on the first day of the clearing operations on July 21.
“As secretary of Agriculture, I will respect the decision of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to clear Divisoria’s streets of vegetable traders. He has every right to do that,” Piñol said.
He said he has ordered Segfredo Serrano, agriculture undersecretary for policy, planning, research and development, and regulations, to find a viable location for the trading center.
“I directed him to look for a government-owned area in Metro Manila, which could be transformed into a Farmers’ Trading Center,” he said.
Piñol said he would go to the Cordillera region on Wednesday to meet and talk to affected