Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said on Monday the Department of Agriculture will host fruit farmers who would like to sell their products directly to consumers in a night market.
The hosting, he said, will be done at the compound of the DA office in Quezon City that will start on December 1 and will be dubbed as “Christmas Night Fruit Market”.
The move is in response to the complaint of fruit farmers that middlemen and traders are squeezing them to sell their farm products at very low prices because of alleged over supply, he added.
The secretary cited the case of the selling of lacatan bananas where instead of buying it at P27 per kilo, buyers and traders are procuring it at P15 per kilo.
“The traders are reportedly saying that there is an oversupply of fruits, a reason which I do not buy because I know for a fact that bananas from Mindanao are sold for as high as P75 per kilo in Baler, Aurora,” Piñol said.
He also aired the sentiments of pomelo farmers from Mindanao whose products are only priced at P15 per kilo from as high as P50 per kilo.
“This is plain and simple price manipulation,” Piñol pointed out, adding that he is personally offended by the brazen exploitation of farmers who produce highly perishable products.
“Last week, when I learned of the slump in the prices of fruits, I directed officials of the Dept. of Agriculture to ask the permission of the Quezon City government so that our fruit farmers could use the frontage of the DA Compound to display their fruits at night,” he said.
He added that other offices under the DA which are located in the Elliptical Circle could also offer their areas for the night market.
Piñol also stressed that the spaces for night market at DA will only be available for the real farmers and no traders or middlemen will be allowed to use the spaces.
“I hope that this project will send a clear message to the traders and middlemen dealing with agriculture products that the Dept. of Agriculture will do everything it could to protect the interests of the small farmers,” he said.
The secretary also made an assurance that any attempt to exploit the farmers by manipulating the prices will be met by the DA with innovative ideas such as the night market.
He added that the agency is also pursuing its project to establish the Farmers Trading Centers in Bulacan, for farmers coming from the North, and another facility in Taguig for the farmers coming from the South.
“While I believe that traders and middlemen play an important role in the trading and commerce of agricultural products as they have been since Bibilical times, I cannot allow them to be so powerful that they literally have in their grips the poor farmers who work under the sun to be able to feed his family and send his children to school,” Piñol said.