Press Release
February 7, 2007


Sen. Mar Roxas yesterday said traders have no reason to unduly raise their prices because vegetable supply from Benguet province remains ample.

In his first visit to a wet market this year, Roxas conferred with vegetable vendors and traders and monitored their supply and prices at the Riverview Market in Balintawak, Quezon City, the largest wholesale (bagsakan) center of Cordillera vegetables in Metro Manila.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap joined Roxas in his market round, prompted by reports that market prices of vegetables have inched up due to the cold temperature that PAGASA said will last till the end of February.

The cold weather, which has caused frost to descend on some 100 hectares of vegetable farms in Atok, Kibungan, Mankayan, and Buguias in Benguet and Bauko in Mountain Province, has resulted to a reported P10 million loss in destroyed vegetables in the area.

The cold weather is not an excuse for traders to raise the prices of vegetables, Roxas said after noting that vegetable prices in the market are priced 3 to 5 times higher compared to their farm gate prices.

He made the statement after hearing the report of Nestor Fongwan and Concepcion Balao, mayors of La Trinidad and Atok, Benguet, respectively, on the vegetable supply situation in the province. The two mayors, accompanied by a group of farmers, joined Roxas in the market and confirmed to the senator that vegetable production in Benguet remains stable and that prices have not moved upwards.

Earlier, the Department of Agriculture said that vegetable prices have remained stable despite the frost, called andap by Cordillera farmers.

Roxas , who chairs the Senate committee on trade and commerce, noted though that while farm gate prices of vegetables remain low, the market have registered unreasonable mark-ups by traders. He blamed this on the number of middlemen in the distribution chain.

For example, the price of carrots in the farm is only about P6 per kilo but here in the market, its about P20 per kilo. This is due to the fact that the carrots passes to from 3 to 5 hands in the distribution chain who all mark-up the product for profit, Roxas, known as Mr. Palengke, said.

Kaya nga hinihimok ko ang mga misis na namamalengke na tumawad nang tumawad hanggang makuha nila ang tamang presyo dahil sobra talaga ang patong ng mga middlemen, Roxas said.

He appealed to traders not to raise their prices. Secretary Yap, on the other hand, warned that the government will go after unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the situation.

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