Farmers revealed they have been competing against smuggled agricultural produce from China and other countries for many years now, with the surge in smuggled vegetables getting public attention only recently.
“Whether these smuggled carrots entered the country via technical smuggling at ports or open seas, the government must remain vigilant and decisive in stopping smuggling that affects local farmers and traders,” said Rafael Mariano, chairperson emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
KMP said they have been asking government to stop vegetable smuggling for many years now.
Approximately 47.7% of the total global production of carrots come from China. Chinese carrots are known for their smooth and shiny skin, weigh almost one kilo per piece, have no stem and are uniform in size.
Benguet vegetable traders said that this practice of vegetable smuggling from China has been going on since 2007.
In 2019, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized smuggled carrots and onions from China worth around P53 million. Most vegetables coming from China are sold in Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Bicol, Divisoria and Balintawak.
KMP reacted after Agriculture Secretary William Dar admitted the construction of the country’s first border quarantine facility for farm products has yet to start after many delays.
After the massive carrot smuggling in Metro Manila was exposed, Dar advised consumers to be vigilant. Recently, the BOC seized P4.75-million worth of farm products in Tondo.
“The best thing that we can do is not to buy because we don’t know what these vegetables contain in terms of pesticide residue,” Dar said.
KMP said farmers are hoping that the DA will own up to its responsibility on the lingering problem of vegetable smuggling instead of making flimsy excuses and palliative solutions.
“DA’s first reaction is to absolve itself from the trouble without acknowledging that policies of importation and neoliberal agricultural trade liberalization contributed to the illegal entry of imported agricultural products, mainly from China,” Mariano said.