Agri output in Mindanao favors traders than farmers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 Aug) – Vegetables and rice products may come a plenty to the markets, but farmers get little from their produce as middlemen and traders enjoy more profit.

Val Turtur, chairperson of the City Agricultural and Fishery Council and vice president of the Vegetables Industry Council in Southern Mindanao, said middlemen and traders are taking advantage of the farmers’ lack of consolidation skills and direct link to better markets.

Turtur earlier said in another report that the Davao region produces about 2,000 metric tons of vegetables per year.

He cited that the middlemen play a key role in the supply chain of vegetables in which more than 70 percent of vegetables pass through or controlled by them.

They are the commissioners, “viajeros,” “jamboleros,” consolidators and institutional buyers, hence, four to five channels of middlemen before the product reaches the consumers.

“You can find these jamboleros in Bankerohan bridge every afternoon, once the truck of vegetables passes by. These men hitch-in and they are the ones who will deal with the consolidators or wholesalers once [the vegetables are] unloaded at Farmers’ Market/Metro Circle,” Turtur said.

He noted that this happens because there is no legitimate farmers’ group or a marketing arm of farmers that consolidates their product. That is why in most cases, the farmers are at the mercy of the traders who control the price.

“It is also difficult for farmers to access financial and technical resources. And, they have limited or no access to information. Sustainability and food security are the buzzwords,” Turtur added.

Pedro Arnado, Southern Mindanao chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), also said that there are several organizations of farmers, including barangay farmers’ associations, that are being used by the national government to obtain funding from both local and global agencies.

Private companies, he said, dictate the prices and exported the produce at prices higher than the local market could afford.

He cited Banay-Banay in Davao Oriental as one of the major rice granaries in Mindanao that is already contracted to a private corporation.

Noting the experiences of KMP members from 15 regions in the country, he said farmers have not benefited from the government’s budget allotment.

He pointed out that the Department of Agriculture has a huge budget of P183 billion for 2012. But a big chunk of which has been used for the importation of 5.9 million metric tons of rice from Taiwan, Vietnam and the United States of America, he added. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)