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Friday, June 2, 2023

Baguio: Benguet pushes for in-depth probe on agricultural smuggling

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Local officials and agriculture industry stakeholders prodded the Senate to continue the ongoing in-depth investigation on the proliferation of the smuggling of agricultural crops until such time that the unscrupulous people behind the same shall be unmasked and appropriate charged before the proper forum.

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Senior board member Robert M. Namoro, vice chairman of the provincial board’s committee on agriculture, raised concern over the fact that officials of concerned agencies that are in charge of regulating the entry of crops and other agriculture products seem to be deliberately finger-pointing at each other on who to blame for the smuggling of the said products that directly compete with locally produced ones.

While it is true that there are a few individuals that had been charged for violation of the pertinent provisions of the Agriculture Modernization Act, the official claimed that most of the cases against the already identified smugglers had been reportedly dismissed and that those that had been charged for such offenses are actually the small fishes and that the big smugglers are still scot-free pursuing their activities that are detrimental to the country’s agriculture industry.

He pointed out that concerned government agencies must have the ‘iron hand’ to enforce existing laws, rules and regulations governing the smuggling of agricultural crops to send a clear message that the government really means business in curbing the unabated entry of crops in the different entry points in the country so that locally produced ones will have a chance to flourish in the market for the benefit of the agriculture industry stakeholders.

Aside from the smuggling of agricultural crops and the filing of appropriate charges against people behind the smuggling ‘mafia,’ Namoro stipulated that concerned government agencies must also look into the sudden increase in the prices of farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides among others that will surely make the production of crops more expensive that will be detrimental to the efforts to revive the country’s heavily impacted economy.

According to him, it is important for Congress to continue looking into the reason behind the unabated smuggling of agricultural crops that directly compete with locally produced ones so that those behind the same will eventually stop their illegal activities to allow the country’s agriculture industry to recover from the serious negative impact of the ongoing Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019 pandemic.

Namoro underscored that concerned agriculture industry stakeholders do not understand why responsible government agencies continue to allow the excessive entry of agricultural crops that include not only vegetables and fruits but also meat among others when what should be done is for the provision of the needed support to the industry for the same to recover and bring back its vibrance to the pre-pandemic period.

The senate will continue the conduct of the public hearing on the smuggling of agricultural crops in the country in the coming months and required concerned government agencies to present their respective reports on why the smuggling of agricultural crops remain to be unabated that is having a negative impact to the local agriculture industry, especially that Benguet is the major producer of semi-temperate crops sold in the deferent markets around the archipelago.

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