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Department of Agriculture calls meeting over dumped tomatoes

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Department of Agriculture calls meeting over dumped tomatoes
In a radio interview, Cumila said that the sale of tomatoes at NVAT decreased as farmers in Southern Tagalog and Pangasinan also started to harvest the commodity.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The dumping of tomatoes in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), particularly in Ifugao, Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya, prompted the Department of Agriculture (DA) to call for an emergency meeting as the head of the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal (NVAT) warned that more such incidents may occur, with the peak harvest still in February 2024.

“We came up with a preparatory plan on what should be done in case a similar situation happens, and we expect this to be repeated in the next months, especially in February,” NVAT general manager Gilbert Cumila said of their meeting with the regional offices of DA in CAR and Cagayan Valley.

In a radio interview, Cumila said that the sale of tomatoes at NVAT decreased as farmers in Southern Tagalog and Pangasinan also started to harvest the commodity.

In an earlier interview with The STAR, farmers’ group advocate Rural Rising Philippines founder Ace Estrada said that a farmer from Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya dumped at least 200 crates or four tons on Dec. 5.

Cumila confirmed the dumping, saying this was validated by the joint team from the NVAT and DA.

“These (tomatoes) were accumulated volume which arrived from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. The tomatoes were not sold for almost three to four nights. As a result 80 percent were damaged and no longer consumable,” Cumila added.

He admitted that NVAT was surprised as oversupply of tomatoes usually happens during the first quarter of the year.

“As a result, from P54 (per kilo wholesale price) on Nov. 30, it went down to P12 (per kilo) on Dec. 1 and further went down to P8 to P10 on Dec. 2 and 3. Only good quality tomatoes were sold and the others were not sold,” Cumila explained.

“Beginning today, we assigned an employee who will monitor every day in case tomatoes are not sold so that the DA and the private sector will find ways to sell the produce even at cheap price in order to prevent (dumping),” he added.

Cumila further explained that the dumped tomatoes came from Mount Pulag, at the boundary of Nueva Vizcaya and Tinoc, Ifugao and were harvested while it was raining, which is why buyers avoided them. As a result, the tometoes were left at NVAT.

“Based on our follow-up investigation and monitoring, other provinces in Southern Luzon and Pangasinan area started to harvest and traders are buying there, that is why the volume bought at NVAT decreased. Yesterday morning, the wholesale price increased to P22 (per kilo). In the past hours, the price did not move so the tendency is that the wholesale price will go down again,” he added. 

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