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PIA Press Release

Benguet vegetable council moves to hold in abeyance PRA

by Susan Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (16 October) -- The Benguet Vegetable Council pushed for the holding in abeyance the submission of the Pest Risk Analysis for carrots on the timeline agreed upon between the PRA team to China and officials of the People’s Republic of China.

Dr. Jocelyn Perez, an entomologist from the Benguet State University (BSU) and a member of the PRA team who visited China last month, said both parties agreed on the October 30, 2006 deadline for submission.

Perez together with Dr. Asuncion Nagpala, also of BSU representing the province to the PRA team left for China September 18, 2006 and arrived September 29, 2006.

La Trinidad Mayor Nestor Fongwan moved for the adoption of a resolution to hold in abeyance the submission of the PRA for carrots until safety measures shall have been integrated, issues shall have been resolved and everything are in place.

Fongwan said there are some reasons to be seriously considered in deferring the PRA submission such as the determination of supply before importation permit be issued, unpredicted effect of calamities which affect prices of crops, the bilateral agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines on the four commodities subject to PRA aside from carrots such as ginger, potato and cabbage, and the inclusion of socio-economic studies. He stressed that farmers should also be prepared to such eventuality and must have a fallback.

BSU President Rogelio Colting said the socio-economic analysis is important in determining the impact of carrot importation to the vegetable industry. There is a need to determine the volume of supply vis-à-vis the demand.

The council also tasked a group to be chaired by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics to conduct a study on the periodic volume of vegetables produced and demand as input to the socio-economic study.

The PRA will be the basis of the provisions of the supposed Bilateral Agreements on the importation of carrots from China supposedly for approval on September 2004. But this was deferred due to strong protest and clamor of farmers and industry leaders pending the issuance of a PRA.

Expressing his reservations, Fongwan said the PRA for carrots should not be a shotgun source for the whole of China and phytosanitary and sanitary permit should come from a specific area.

The areas visited by the team were the provinces of Xiamen, Fujiian and Shandong equipped with high end technologies and which according to the team have low pest incidence. These provinces are exporting their vegetables to USA, Korea, Japan among others.

Unfortunately, the delegation did not visit individual farms like Guandong which according to Fongwan have similar farm practices like ours.

Fongwan said “there is pressure of China to the Philippine government as we are exporting bananas to their country.” Also being eyed for export are mangoes which cannot also take off.

Part of the report Perez presented which will still be finalized as there were additional inputs were as follows: the group did not agree to the immediate request of China for the export of 10 vegetables to the Philippines but instead considered carrots, potatoes and ginger as priority vegetables; China wanted to fast track completion of PRA for vegetables such as carrots on October 2006, potatoes on December 2006, ginger on March 2007; vegetable to be imported from China should come from areas with low pest prevalence and areas with similar agro-climatic conditions.

Recommendations would be for China to follow stringent requirements in exporting vegetables to the Philippines like in the USA, Korea and Japan; vegetables should be taken from accredited farms by China Inspection Quarantine (CIQ) Bureau and areas with similar agricultural conditions; importation should be done when there is low supply of the commodity.

One of the recommendations of the council is the conduct of pesticide analysis at entry ports to determine if the imported produce passed the tolerance limit.

Perez said the team also met with local experts of the BSU and adopted some recommendations such as accreditation of local importers and formulation of Implementing Rules and Regulations to safeguard or guarantee quality and quantity of imported products; labeling of products as importers from China and enforcement of the law against smuggling of vegetables.

Recommendations for stakeholders is to adopt a viable crop program; adopt new technologies on post harvest handling and implement product standards for different vegetables and inter-agency collection and update of information on requirements of local market, update local production capacity in terms of area and volume. (PIA-CAR) [top]

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