Agri trade hub transforming into a corporation
The country’s biggest vegetable trading facility—the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) in La Trinidad, Benguet province—is set to be transformed into a corporation with a farmer representative at the helm.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday said the move was aimed at encouraging farmers to learn about and adopt “a market-oriented, value-chain or food systems strategy,” that would allow them to take control also of necessary businesses outside production.
The BAPTC is one of the 10 food exchange centers put up by former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in 2012. It was later converted into a P40-million food terminal with food processing capabilities and has been operating for the last six years under the Benguet State University (BSU).
Since then, the number of stakeholders involved in BAPTC has ballooned to 40,000 from 108, with 187 accredited farmer cooperatives and associations. It was also able to trade nearly 170,000 metric tons of produce last year from only 269 metric tons when it started trading.
“We believe such transformation is forthcoming, as we aim to optimize the potentials and profitability of the BAPTC through the provision of more cost-efficient services and modern facilities to farmers, traders and other stakeholders,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“As a corporation, the BAPTC will become a major player in our drive to modernize and industrialize the agriculture industry in the Cordillera region,” he added.
Once incorporated, the BAPTC would have six main stakeholders who will be involved in the policy-making and advisory board. It will be chaired by the agriculture secretary while the BSU president would sit as vice chair. The other members will include the Benguet provincial governor, the La Trinidad municipal mayor, the Benguet district representative and a representative of the Benguet farmers leaders’ council.
Among the suggested businesses that BAPTC could take part in as a corporation includes the trading of farm inputs, implements, and other agricultural and food processing equipment; setting up of a one-stop shop store that would include a pharmacy; a savings and loan unit; a training and events management and a physical wellness facility.
The bulk of the vegetables traded in BAPTC are sold in Divisoria and Balintawak markets in Metro Manila, as well as in Pangasinan, Batangas and Tacloban provinces.
The DA aims to replicate this business model across food terminals all over the country. To date, the same approach is used to sustain the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal.
Dar said the current operation of BAPTC has been constrained by bureaucratic bottlenecks that hindered its potential growth, sustainability and profitability. The goal is to provide government support during the initial stage of food terminals until stakeholders are taught to operate these businesses efficiently. INQ
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