PSA: Nueva Ecija Farmers Need Help in Selling Their Squashes
According to the farmers in Nueva Ecija, there is an oversupply of squash, as there is less demand for this produce. We delve into this phenomenon and how businesses can help.
Farmers from the town of Zaragoza in Nueva Ecija had to shell out PHP 40,000 in capital to plant squashes in a hectare of land. Now, they are facing a problem of oversupply—or simply, “an excessive amount of a product that is the result of when demand is lower than supply, resulting in a surplus.”
Because of this, these farmers are appealing for help so that they can sell their squashes, according to a report by ABS-CBN News. As of writing, tons of squashes have been stored in their warehouses and due to the fact that there are not enough buyers, some of them have already begun to rot.
The oversupply has caused the price per kilo to drop to just PHP 7. Traders, however, have been haggling for prices to be dropped lower to PHP 2.50.
How the Local Government Unit (LGU) Responded
According to ABS-CBN News, the local government unit (LGU) has already reached out to the regional agriculture office to make sure that there will be buyers for the farmers’ squashes. Moreover, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has also assured that it will help the farmers when it comes to looking for buyers and even partners.
Rosenita Gonzales, the municipal agriculturist of Zaragoza, said that they have the Batitang cooperative to help with this oversupply. “Yung LGU hindi natutulog, nandiyan lang kami to help them. Just in case na magkaroon ng problema, hindi maibenta, mayroon naman kaming processing, yung Batitang cooperative, nagpoprocess na sila ng kalabasa ketchup,” Gonzales explained.
[Translation: The LGU isn’t helping, but we’re here to help. Just in case there’s a problem in selling the surplus squash, we have a processing wing called the Batitang cooperative, which can process squash ketchup.]
A Win-win Situation for Businesses and Farmers
Given the oversupply of squash in the town of Zaragoza, businesses can help farmers by buying their produce directly from them—which makes for a win-win situation. In fact, even individual households can contribute by purchasing squashes for their personal consumption—straight from the farmers themselves.
Businesses in the food industry, especially those whose dishes use squash as an ingredient, can opt to directly source the produce from these farmers and save on costs. This will help farmers offload their supply without any wastage.
And from a business perspective, restaurants can offer seasonal menu items that use squash—which will cost less to produce given that the sourced materials are more affordable—and it allows them to test the market with a new product. On the other hand, initiatives that help farmers sell produce at affordable prices can also arise from this.
The Problem of Oversupply
The oversupply and even the undersupply of vegetables are problems that farmers deal with year in and year out. Just last year, farmers and the country, in general, had to deal with a potato shortage, as well as higher prices for bananas.
Back in April, GMA News reported that farms in different provinces have been opting to just give away their produce instead of losing money to transportation fees. Some even choose to just throw away the vegetables they worked hard to produce. Farmers who have resorted to such practices include those from Benguet, Nueva Ecija, and other provinces in Central Luzon.
Despite the problem of oversupply, it has been made clear by Agot Balanoy—the spokesperson of the League of Associations La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area—that the blame should not fall on the farmers.
“It’s true that we don’t have crop programming here. But I don’t think that it’s the falls on the farmer to think of what to plant so there wouldn’t be an oversupply or undersupply,” Agot Balanoy, spokesperson of the League of Associations La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area, said in Filipino over ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“These are individual farmers. Those planting in one municipality do not know what is being planted in other municipalities. That’s why they don’t have any way of knowing that what they planted was also planted by their companions,” she said.
The report adds that Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center Chief Operations Officer Jesson Del-Amen told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that “We don’t want to pinpoint who’s at fault here. We should be helping each other so that we can implement the plans of the government, especially of the Department of Agriculture.”