The disposers, traders, farmers, and workers of the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LTVTP) or commonly known as old trading post cannot be transferred immediately to the Benguet Agripinoy Trading Center (BAPTC).
This was according to Romeo K. Salda, who was proclaimed mayor-elect of La Trinidad by the Municipal board of election last May 10, 2016.
Salda stated that when he is seated mayor on June, he would organize consultations with the department heads involved in the BAPTC to see pressing matters and to clear out to the farmers of their needs.
The BAPTC is a program under the Department of Agriculture (DA) created by virtue of Special Order No. 369 issued by DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala on August 16, 2010. The program serves as a marketing facility where farmers can directly sell their produce such as vegetables, strawberries, root crops, and coffee at reasonable prices, thus ensuring acceptable returns to the farmers/producers.
According to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary Proceso Alcala and mayor Edna Tabanda in November 2 last year, it stated that DA bankrolled a total 30 million pesos to the Municipality for the construction of the La Trinidad Community Business Center in the old trading post.
This means that the stakeholders of the old trading post are to be transferred to the BAPTC.
“Ang sabi sa MOA is eventual transfer, kaya hindi basta-bastang lilipat ang mga stakeholders (The MOA stated that eventual transfer of stakeholders, which means we cannot just force them to transfer to BAPTC),” Salda stated adding that it is still the stakeholders’ decision whether they will transfer or not.
Salda also argued that way back in 2005, there is a LTVP Code Legislation which protects the rights of the stakeholders.
According to Janice Binay-an, Marketing Director of the old trading post, said that there was no memorandum from the Municipal or from BAPTC regarding the transfer of stakeholders.
In much protest, farmers and stakeholders are reluctant to transfer in BAPTC because of the accreditation and the rental fee.
“The accreditation is a privilege for farmers to enjoy benefits from BAPTC,” expressed Hazel Bandas, Marketing Director I of BAPTC.
Farmers are also against the BAPTC rental fee of 25 centavos per kilo. The old trading post only charges 100-200 pesos per vehicle load.
Bandas also said that one of the platforms of BAPTC is to eliminate issues regarding double traders and middle men.
“Paano ngayon ‘yung supplier ng farmer kung pupunta sila sa BAPTC? Parang ang gumaganap na middle man ngayon ay ang BAPTC. (Where will the supplier of the farmer go if the farmer would transfer to BAPTC? The one assuming the role of the middle man is BAPTC),” conveyed Salda.
Salda also said that since time immemorial, the relationship of the middle men and the farmers are deeply rooted. One of the factors why farmers are reluctant to transfer is because the farmers trust their particular middle man in handling their funds.
In contrast, Junjun (not his real name), a farmer from Bauko, Mt. Province, said that he is not in favor of middle men and is interested to transfer to BAPTC.
“Ok lang mawala ang middle man basta may magprovide ng truck (the absence of a middle man is okay but what is needed is a truck),” expressed Junjun.
Junjun further stated that their income is used to pay the middle man, the truck rental, the driver, and the land that they farm. This leaves them no choice but to borrow money from their middle man.
In conclusion, Salda is determined to have consultation sessions with the department heads involved in the management of BAPTC: DA – Central, DA – CAR, Benguet State University (BSU), Benguet Congressional District, PLGU Benguet, MLGU La Trinidad, and Benguet Farmer’s Marketing Cooperative (BFMC) as the farmers’ representative.// Mikeen Penchog