Afternoon with farmers
Mirayon, Talakag, Bukidnon – On the way to Valencia City, Bukidnon from Marawi City, a seven-hour land trip, I dropped by this cool and picturesque vegetable production village to share coffee with the farmers yesterday.
I have been here twice before, the first time was before Typhoon Ompong hit the vegetable production areas of the Cordillera and second when I came back to thank the farmers for sending their vegetables to Metro Manila to tame vegetable prices in the market.
It was the farmers from Talakag, Bukidnon and the nearby towns of Lantapan, Impasugong and Somilao who helped us bring the prices of vegetables down in Metro Manila when the unscrupulous traders raised the prices of carrots to P400 per kilo and cabbage at over P200 per kilo.
With the help of the private sector, the Bukidnon farmers sold their carrots in Manila at P80 per kilo, potato at P40 per kilo and cabbage at P90 per kilo.
This effectively stumped the attempts of greedy middlemen to jack up vegetable prices.
Yesterday, I decided to drop by the area with Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña of High Value Crops and Regional Director Carlene Collado of Region X.
As I shared coffee with the farmers in the area where they have established a small office and where they intend to put up a roadside stall to sell their vegetables to passerby, I learned that in spite of the good intentions of government, there will always be kinks and shortcomings.
I learned that of the four tractors the DA turned over to them, only three was given to them by the LGU because one of the tractors was allocated for corn farming.
The farmers also told me that the small tractors with rotavators are not ideal for the area because of the big rocks in the field.
They asked that the two 35-hp small tractors are replaced with bigger tractors, a request which I approved immediately.
Next week, two big 95-HP tractors will be added to their equipment pool so they will have three big tractors to use.
The farmers also reported that the release of their production loans through a local conduit bank was very slow.
In fact, they said that aside from the marketing loan which was granted to them and which they had already repaid in full, none of the promised production loan has been released.
I ordered Director Collado to bring the farmers to a meeting with ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola in Arakan, Cotabato tomorrow so the problem could be threshed out.
Before I left the village to continue my journey to Valencia City, I asked them why they did not relay the problems to me by texting me.
“Maulaw man mi mag-text sa imo Sec,” the farmer leader Ryan Danio said.
(We don’t feel comfortable texting you directly.)
This is a reality that I have to face: While our intentions are noble and the programs seem to be perfect, there are so many little issues that could stand in the way.
It is just a good thing that I dropped by for two mugs of Mirayon organic coffee, a boxful of free leaf Onions and a boxful of young carrots given out by the farmers, also for free.