All systems go for 2nd highland vegetable festival

By upao - Posted on 23 July 2019

Activities for the second highland vegetable festival slated on July 24-26, 2019 have been finalized in a meeting between members of the Highland Vegetable Festival Stakeholders (HVFS Association) and staff of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC).

The main purpose of the festival is to promote highland vegetables through an exhibit, vegetable contests, a motorcade and an investment forum. The exhibit will feature One Town One Product (OTOP) of various Local Government Units (LGUs) and an AgriTienDa booth of the Department of Agriculture. AgriTienDa supports inter-trading by allowing different regions to showcase their products with each other. The contests include selection on the heaviest vegetable, vegetable packing, vegetable fun race and vegetable farming success story writing. The vegetable packing contest will not only be judged on speed but on how well the vegetables are sorted. The vegetable fun race will let the contestants find hidden packs of vegetables within the BAPTC premises.

The investment forum will be participated by LGU officials, BAPTC stakeholders which includes the traders, market facilitators, packers, porters and farmers), Benguet State University, Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) and Cordillera Agricultural Researchers’ and Extensionist Association (CAREO).

The festival will also become a venue for market-matching where farmers show their produce and potential buyers would give their standards.

These activities hope to usher long-term benefits like inter-trading, a boost in sales and improvement of the value chain.
BAPTC Institutional Development Extension Service Director, Via S. Ablos said that inter-trading is a part of BAPTC programs where products from other regions are welcomed in the center. She recalled that since the full operation of BAPTC, there were walk-in farmers from Cagayan, Pangasinan, Camarines and Nueva Vizcaya who traded fruits such as banana, pineapple and watermelon and vegetables such as tomato and squash.

Meanwhile, BAPTC Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Violeta B. Salda said that value-chain is when appropriate vegetable production, packing and transport practices are integrated from the farm until it reaches the consumer. For example, from the farm, the vegetables have already been sorted, classified and placed in crates and properly labeled with important information including when it was harvested and its maturity index.

For HVFS Association president, George Capiato, he looks at the festival as a way for stakeholders and concerned agencies and LGUs to come together and resolve issues of the highland vegetable industry.
“Ti mabigbig nu mamingsan ket Baguio beans, gapu ta ti mangmangeg tayo lang mostly iti media ket Baguio ti mainagnaganan ngem actually ti pagapgapuan ti products ket from Benguet so kayat tayo tata nga i-clear nga iti province of Benguet is the one producing most highland vegetables. Daytoy festival ket tapno mabigbig ti Benguet, ta according to statistics, almost 80% iti province of Benguet ket farming iti trabaho ti kailian” (The term ‘Baguio beans’ is more popular because it is frequently mentioned by the media but Benguet is actually where most highland vegetables come from. That is what we want to clear out. According to statistics, almost 80% of Benguet are engaged in farming), said Capiato.

Capiato added that a bigger issue he hopes to be resolved is the stability of highland vegetables outlets in Manila and Metro Manila. He shared some instances where sales of highland vegetables were affected because of the unsure status of vegetable outlets in Divisoria and Balintawak.
“Idi nagtugaw ni apo Mayor Isko Moreno in-clear na iti Recto ijay Divisoria. As the mayor, right na met piman to clean. Ngem nagsubli met lang kadatayo ta nag-reduce ti purchase of Manila buyers ta bawal garuden ti‘latag’, Mayor Moreno is still looking at where to relocate the ambulant vendors. The same ijay Cloverleaf, Balintawak, adda ti time nga istay magatang jay paglaklakuan ti kakailian ijay, so didjay manen madandanagan iti kailian (When Mayor Isko Moreno took office, he cleared Recto in Divisoria leading to the reduction of highland vegetables purchase from Manila buyers because ambulant vending is no longer allowed, Mayor Moreno is still looking for a place to relocate the vendors. The same at Cloverleaf, Balintawak when the area where Benguet vegetable sellers was almost bought and those are constant worries for the sellers from our province), shared Capiato. He stressed that identifying an area in Manila intended as an outlet of highland vegetables with the help of the national government and Benguet LGUs must be prioritized.

The first Highland Vegetables Festival was held on June 30, 2018 to celebrate the anniversary of the stakeholders’ arrival in BAPTC after a long and tedious process of Information Education and Communication (IEC) campaign and negotiation.

It can be recalled that BAPTC first operated in June 2017 with the cooperation of 12 stakeholder groups who are now also the members of HVFS association. Cabbage, potato, sayote, carrot and Chinese cabbage are the top five most traded vegetables in the center.//JSTabangcura