Metro Manila residents are advised to temporarily stop buying vegetables due to the abundance of smuggled agricultural products and because of possible contamination, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
Solons prodded the Department of Agriculture (DA) to investigate the proliferation of smuggled carrots, ginger, cabbage and other vegetables in markets in the metropolis.
In advising consumers to refrain from buying vegetables in the meantime, Dar said they is unable to determine the pesticide residue of smuggled vegetables that bypassed the scrutiny of the Bureau of Customs.
Smuggled agricultural products that are not subjected to quarantine inspection could host specific diseases. The first case of African swine fever in the country was allegedly caused by smuggled tainted meat from China—the same source of smuggled carrots.
The DA has yet to determine the volume of smuggled agricultural products that already entered the country. He did not discount the possibility that these smuggling operations could be large-scale with the daily arrival of smuggled vegetables.
He added the DA along with the inter-agency economic intelligence unit are still identifying smuggler’s group.
Farmer groups such as the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the Federation of Free Farmers lobbied for the construction of first border inspection facilities at the country’s major ports.
This project, approved in 2020, has already gotten funds from the Office of the President, but according to Dar, construction was being hampered by bureaucratic and technical issues.