Vegetable packaging, processing facility to rise in Benguet
To trim postharvest losses in the country’s “salad bowl,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) is allocating P40 million to establish a vegetable packaging and processing facility in Benguet province.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the groundbreaking ceremony earlier this week, wherein he stressed that the “rationale of having this food processing facility is to avoid throwing excess supply to waste,” adding that the facility could be used to convert produce to value-added products especially in times of low prices.
According to DA regional executive director Cameron Odsey, the facility would complement another processing facility in Benguet State University (BSU)—also a DA-funded project—amounting to P20 million.
Intricate processing activities such as juicing may be done at the BSU site while initial processing activities such as washing and trimming produce may be conducted at the new facility inside Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) in municipality of La Trinidad.
One focus of the project is to manufacture ready-to-cook vegetables, similar to packed food items in Western countries.
Aside from the new infrastructure, BAPTC was also given P40 million in seed capital to buy unsold vegetables that are traded in the center. This is to prevent possible wastage and income losses.
On average, vegetable farmers lose between 30 and 50 percent of their harvest from the lack of storage facilities and the improper handling of produce when in transit. The establishment of the needed infrastructure as well as educating farmers about postharvest best practices are seen to address this. INQ