DA-7 asks LGUS to regain control of fish pricing, food production
CORTES, Bohol, June 1 (PIA) — On the issue of expensive fish price in Bohol, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has asked local government units to take hold of the production to streamline the pricing to help in the government’s effort to institute price control and protect people’s interests.
Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA Thursday, DA Regional Executive Director Atty. Salvador Diputado said that things would not be pleasant “if we continue to allow people to market their goods at their own prices.”
Diputado was reacting to the common observation that the prices as well as the supply of fish and marine products changed a bit after Bohol put up a strict border policy when it implemented community quarantine against the spread of the corona virus disease.
In a separate Kapihan sa PIA, Bohol Environment Management Office representative Jose Garcia, admitted that fishermen on their side of Bohol send about 80 percent of their catch to Cebu, leaving only 20 percent for Bohol markets.
Garcia said fishermen there find it easier to sell their catch in Cebu, where they can also easily access credits from fish dealers there.
He added that at times, fishermen who have borrowed money from dealers are forced to sell their fish at prices the dealers themselves dictate.
Diputado added that the scheme has also made sure that the best kinds of fish get to Cebu, while Bohol has to contend with the rejects.
As to the provision of credit facilities, the government has never been remiss, Diputado said.
He, however, relayed that the big markets in Cebu has made it a logical venue for Bohol fishermen to steer to as this assures they can sell the bulk of their catch without losing to spoilage.
He cited the issue of fishermen in Calape and Tubigon areas, where the absence of fish post-harvest facilities and cold storage facilities are pushing fishers to get their catch to Cebu.
The same issue is prevalent in the fishing towns north of Bohol, where majority of populations are engaged in fishing and marine food production related activities.
At present, however, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have started to put up Community Fish Landing Centers with cold storage facilities, but these are seldom used to its full capacity.
After the community quarantine was implemented in Bohol when fishers were not allowed to cross, fish supply and prices in Bohol went down as evidenced by wet market prices in Getafe, Talibon, and Ubay.
But the proliferation of ambulant vendors in motorcycles and cabs has dampened the effects due to compounded pricing, observers noted.
Most of these people do not even pay taxes and are the ones heaping in on the sales to the detriment of the consumers.
While DA did not detail how LGUs can regain control, the Local Government Code has enough provisions for LGUs to institute measures to regulate business enterprises of their constituents and within their areas of jurisdiction.
“If the LGUS can regain control of the production and marketing, we can protect the interests of the fishermen by selling at the right market price, and protect the interest of the consumers by buying at the just price,” Diputado said.
For Visayan fishers and fishers who continue to be on the frontline for the food requirements of communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture and BFAR have opened more affordable credit facilities and easy term loans in time for the Farmers and Fisherfolks Month celebrations.
Diputado said those who are interested to avail of the credit facilities may visit DA offices or their Municipal Agriculture Officers. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)