Confronting the cartel
By Manny Piñol

Traders, who ideally provide the connection between the farmers and the market, will always be with us as they have been with us since Biblical times.

But there are unscrupulous traders who because of the weak regulatory powers of government now, take advantage of the inability of the farmers to gain direct access to the market.

In the case of palay, for example, it is the traders who set the buying price of the farmers’ produce and it is also they who dictate the price of rice in the market.

To a farmer like me, this is totally unacceptable.

I have earlier declared an advocacy to enable rice and corn farmers to get the fair worth of their labor and investments in their farm.
Shortly before I leave an important meeting to China next week, I will summon to my office in Quezon City the owners of the Palm Oil Mills and the big buyers of raw rubber products in the country.

The reason?

The price of a kilo of the Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) is being bought in the country for only P3.60 or P3,600 per ton while in Malaysia the going rate is about P5.60 or P5,600 per ton, a difference of P2,000.

That means that if an Oil Palm farmer harvests 20 metric tons of FFB from an hectare every year, he is shortchanged by about P40,000.
In the case of rubber, the price of raw rubber in cuplumps form has dropped from a high of P95 when I was still Governor of North Cotabato to as low as P15 now.

The result is that many children of rubber farmers are not able to go to school anymore and many tappers have lost their jobs because the rubber farm owners have decided to abandon their farms.

The raw rubber buyers are saying the rubber prices are dictated by the world market prices so they are buying at low prices.

My question, however, is why are they exporting raw cuplumps to Malaysia where these are processed and they earn good money?
As Secretary of Agriculture, I need to confront these problems.

A group, headed by Cabinet UnderSecretary Pete Laviña is working closely with a Malaysian Oil Palm advocacy group led by former Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Saad Ibrahim to correct this anomaly in the pricing of Oil Palm in the Philippines.

For rubber, I have asked the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) which is now headed by Sec. Jess Dureza to start organizing the rubber farmers into a corporation.

Once they are organized, I will support efforts to get them involved in the processing of their rubber products into medical gloves, bicycle and motorcycle tires, and even car and truck tires.

It is time to liberate the farmers from the bondage of the unscrupulous traders.

‪#‎Changeishere‬! ‪#‎PresRodyCares‬# ‪#‎DuterteDelivers‬! ‪#‎BiyahengBukidRocks‬! ‪#‎FarmersStrikeBack‬!