E-trading for Mindanao veggie industry urged

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/08 August) – There is a need for Mindanao’s vegetable industry to go into electronic trading to address marketing problems besetting farmers and traders, said a study presented at the 7th Mindanao Vegetable Congress on August 4 to 5 at the Almont Hotel’s Inland Resort here.

According to the presentation made by Allan Bacho, an agriculturist at the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) of the Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao, electronic trading will address problems of unstable prices, buyers’ dictating the price, transportation cost and absence of price information.

The study, presented on August 5, was dubbed: “Developing a vegetable e-trading: Characterization from Vegetable Marketing Practices in Northern Mindanao, Philippines.”

Bacho said the advantages of e-trading include price integration across markets, price transparency, price reliability, and time-bound price quotations.

He added e-trading will benefit not just one sector but all sectors — buyers, farmers, and consumers alike.

Traders are expected to have efficient buying and selling prices. Farmers, too, are assured of price transparency.

Consumers, on the other hand, are assured of fair prices, which could possibly lead to higher consumption, based on his presentation a copy of which was furnished to MindaNews by the Caraga Rafid (Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division).

Based on statistics cited by Bacho and two other colleagues from AMAD, Mindanao produces 17 percent of the country’s vegetable production, slightly higher than the 11 percent produce by farmers in the Visayas.

Luzon produces at least 73 percent of the country’s vegetable output.

The vegetable industry is facing both production and marketing problems, Bacho said.

Among the marketing problems cited in the study is the high concentration of vegetable trading with wholesaler, assembler-wholesaler, wholesaler-retailer and financier-wholesaler.

The study, a survey research conducted among 1080 farmer-respondents from Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte, looked into the production and trading of 13 vegetables: tropical (ampalaya, stringbean, eggplant, squash, and okra) and semi-temperate (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, lettuce, sweet pepper, sweet pea, and tomato).

The study found out that the average age of vegetable farmers is 44.7 years old with average farming experience of 11.4 years. It said most of the farmers plant all-year round.

Seventy-six percent of sale was done through delivery. Except for okra and lettuce, vegetables fetch higher prices when delivered than picked up.

The study found out that most of the vegetable buyers are wholesalers and they control the prices.

The group proposed that in developing the vegetable e-trading, the industry must build on existing vegetable trading centers or “bagsakan” trading posts and work with traders, farmers and farmers’ association and local agriculture technicians.

Bacho told hundreds of participants of the congress that there is a need to define entry and sustainability strategies of vegetable e-trading through brainstorming, leveling up, and fine tuning of concepts to adapt to local dynamics of trading and production.

Among the salient sub-themes in the congress were Climate Change and the Vegetable Industry, Innovation on Production and Marketing, and Market Opportunities.

Another highlight of the congress was business matching between farmers groups and buyers from Luzon, Cebu, and Leyte.

Runolfo B. Villarante, one of the presenters under “Innovations on Production and Marketing” encouraged participants to shift to organic farming as one alternative vegetable production technology.

Villarante, president of the Salvacion Vegetable Growers Association of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur said his method requires lesser cost but gives higher yield aside from being environment-friendly and healthy to the body.

The Caraga High Value Vegetable Cluster Inc. organized the 7th Mindanao Vegetable Congress with the theme “Sustaining the Gains of the Vegetable Industry in Mindanao Amidst New Challenges.” (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)