Benguet apprehensive on immediate approval of PRA for carrots
by SC Aro
La Trinidad, Benguet (13 February) -- The province is apprehensive until when will the Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for carrots be pending at the office of the Department of Agriculture. The PRA is a phytosanitary requirement on the importation of vegetables.
Governor Nestor Fongwan raised this issue among DA personalities in a dialogue during a Vegetable Congress held last week at the Ben Palispis Auditorium of the Provincial Capitol attended by various stakeholders.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - China Free Trade Area (ACFTA). agreement which took effect this January, imposes tariff on goods from 15 percent to zero tariff until its full implementation by 2018 affecting some listed high sensitive risk commodities. The country is a member of the ACFTA.
Aside from carrots, listed as high sensitive risk commodities include cabbages, potatoes and ginger under the Early Harvest Programme. EHP is a free trade agreement within the framework of the ACFTA.
Should the PRA of these commodities belonging to the high sensitive risk list be in place the soonest, entry of these goods will adversely affect the sale of the said existing products in the country.
Fongwan said under the free trade agreement on the reduction of tariff, the vegetable industry is not yet ready by then which would affect the industry.
However, there are recommended measures in curbing the effect of free trade and compete with the international market such as improvement through policy and technology support on the problem of low output and high production cost and the strengthening of customs regulations to curb smuggling.
In developing countries, there is no problem on policy and technology support as farmers are subsidized unlike in the country where the poor farmer is not subsidized and has to shell out all from his pocket.
DA Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano who gave updates on the World Trade Organization, shared the sentiments of the province and suggested alternatives on the issue on PRA for carrots. First is the conduct of a public hearing based on a more thorough study and document the farm where the commodity is really being procured.
He suggested the province to demand from the Bureau of Plant Industry for a new PRA that is consistent and not from a sanitized farm.
Another alternative is through a political decision of the Secretary of Agriculture whether to signthe PRA or not.
However, if the findings of the study is still positive, then the province should seek the intervention of Congress for drafting of another PRA that is truly accurate and reliable.
Akbayan Partylist Congressman Walden Bello said Congress can contribute to the delay on the implementation of trade agreements saying that they have no choice but make trade agreements to have an impact. There should be short-medium and long term strategies to impact on trade agreements, he further said. (PIA-Benguet) [top]