Press Release
March 2, 2010

Villar targets veggie, fruit smugglers

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday vowed to initiate a concerted effort to curb the No. 1 enemy of vegetable-fruit growers and farmers - smuggling.

Villar said the battle against illegal importation of vegetables and other farm products is far from over as he stressed the need to stop rampant smuggling so that local vegetables industry will stay alive.

"This smuggling is killing our farmers and it is necessary that this is given special attention. Special efforts are needed to stamp out the smuggling of agricultural products," the NP presidential bet said.

The country produces 1,800 metric tons of vegetables and fruits a day. Production revenues are believed to exceed P30 billion a year, according to studies conducted by the Peasant Education and Studies Center.

In 1994, vegetable imports accounted for only about five percent of local supply, roughly 55,000 metric tons. By 2001, import volumes reached 150,000 metric tons.

Villar has expressed alarm over reports that stakeholders in the P12-billion vegetable industry have decried the Arroyo administration for its lack of will in stopping the influx of smuggled vegetables from China.

Despite the deployment of several anti-smuggling task forces, the NP standard-bearer questioned why the government is unable to stop the smuggling of vegetables.

Villar believes that overcoming poverty is about more than getting economic policies right. He said it is also about empowering people by creating a society that promotes equal access to opportunities, enabling everyone to contribute to social and economic progress and share in its rewards.

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