ROUGH CUTS| Why not agri-trading centers in strategic locations?

WHAT, the national government has not been financially supporting the operation of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in the Davao Region?

This is one disturbing development as mentioned by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during the latest meeting of the RPOC in a local hotel in Davao City. Duterte is RPOC chairman after he was re-appointed to head the peace body last year.

According to the mayor it is the city of Davao which is subsidizing the operation of the RPOC including the expenses for honoraria to some of its officials.

He said that since his re-installation as the RPOC chairman, the national government under President P-noy has not released any amount for the RPOC XI. The mayor made a comparison of today’s RPOC situation to that of the RPOC during the time of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The mayor said all the RPOC expenses incurred in the course of its operation were reimbursed by the national government after submission of appropriate liquidation report. Today, the RPOC chair claims, it is Davao City that is funding the various RPOC activities.

Well, we commiserate with the mayor. We can understand his problem of finding funds to subsidize the RPOC operation without violating regulations of the Commission on Audit (COA). But then as chair, the responsibility of ensuring that the RPOC in the Davao Region operates as expected of the peace body falls on his shoulders. And without funds the RPOC is inutile.

It’s a good thing that Davao City has been able to meet its revenue targets every year and that we have officials who are willing to sacrifice some of its non-immediate development requirements just to share its resources to a government body virtually rendered orphan by the national government.

We strongly recommend that our congressmen take this case up to the national legislative body or better still, bring this to the attention of Malacañang. Who knows, the non-release of national funds for RPOC XI could have been a simple negligence by some officials of the Aquino administration.

–ooOoo–

So there is a project by the Department of Agriculture intending to build an agricultural trading center for Davao City to be located in Daliao, Toril? The project is estimated to cost around P70 million.

The City Council has been reported to have started discussions on the mechanics for its implementation. According to the report, the agri-trading center is where farmers sell their produce directly with buyers offering competitive prices. This is so because with the trading center in operation the intervention of middlemen will be limited, if not totally eliminated.

In concept it looks the trading center is the ideal way of helping farmers dispose of their farm produce without being hoodwinked by some people who take advantage of the farmers’ lack of access to the market.

But would this concept really work? Let our officials be reminded that most of the disadvantaged farmers are the small ones. They are those who are vulnerable to the schemes of middlemen because they do not have the volume that would allow them to sell their products with clear gains if they bring it directly to the wholesale buyers in the markets or the government trading center.

Say, would farmers having so less produce pay so much in transportation cost with so little expected sales? Would they take all the trouble of bringing their products to the center and go home with hardly any money left?

Common sense will tell us that it would be more advantageous for the farmers to have much lesser sales by disposing their farm produce to middlemen or “dicers” where such transaction would not require them to spend for fare, meals and others.

But we believe that agricultural trading centers are worthy projects if located strategically. And if the centers are capitalized by government, then we recommend that these be constructed in smaller sizes in areas most accessible by the farmers, especially those who are in the hinterland districts like Marilog and Paquibato.

And if the buyers are private farm product traders, the government has to establish mechanisms that will ensure that they have people stationed in the various trading centers where they compete in buying the farmers’ produce.

                                                                       -30-

Posted in Opinion