Bukidnon's veggie farmers want government package to sustain them

KEBINTON, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon  (MindaNews/10 November) — Vegetable farmers are going to need not just financing assistance to sustain them in the next 10 years but a complete package from the government, such as training on agri-business enterprises, marketing, and other support services.

Farmer Henry Pad-ay of this largest vegetable-producing barangay, said the national government should attend to the farmers’ needs, including the need for better farm to market roads, irrigation, and post-harvest facilities.

Kebinton is a village with around 7,500 people, at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. Its economy is predominantly agricultural, with farmers producing mostly tomato, potato, cabbage, string and Baguio beans, carrots, and bell pepper.

Pad-ay said the village produces a daily average of two tons of vegetables. At least five double tire cargo vehicles loaded with vegetables and other crops leave the village every day for Cagayan de Oro and neighbouring cities.

But he added that if the support mechanism for vegetable farmers is not going to improve, the local vegetable industry will go down.

He said a Korean government consortium has explored possibilities for corn production for export.

While farmers are reluctant to shift for now because of lack of better economic choices, he said, there is a possibility they would eventually change crop if government support is  insufficient.

Pad-ay, a farmer earning a net of close to P100,000 per month from production of vegetables,  sugarcane, and banana said financing is the major concern of both small and medium scale farming.

But Pad-ay is the exemption to the rule in Kebinton, where almost 75 per cent of farmers are highly dependent on vegetable gardening.

He cited that majority of the farmers of the village farm around one to two hectares of vegetables and earn a gross average of P10, 000.

“They cannot go beyond that as we have no power against the traders,” he said.

He said he ran and was elected barangay captain because he wanted to pursue his advocacy for greater government subsidy for vegetable farmers.

“We will go to the Department of Agriculture to lobby for better government support,” he said.

He said the Kibenton United Farmers Organization, where he is a member, obtained a loan from a government bank that farmers have great difficulty repaying now.

“After we were taught how to apply for the loan, we were left there grappling to make both ends meet with no enough training,” he said.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)