On December 1, the Department of Agriculture will open a “Christmas Night Fruit Market” in the front grounds of its compound in the Elliptical Circle allowing legitimate fruit farmers to sell their products directly to consumers amid a slump in fruit prices, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol has announced.

Pinol said, in a statement on his facebook,  “this was the department’s innovative response to fruit farmers’ complaint that “middlemen and traders are squeezing them to sell at very low prices because of alleged over supply.”

He has directed agriculture officials, Pinol said, “to ask the permission of the Quezon City government so that our fruit farmers could use the frontage of the DA Compound to display their fruits at night.”

Other offices under the DA in the Elliptical Circle could also offer their areas for the “Night Fruit Market.”

Only real fruit farmers would be allowed in the Night Fruit Market, Pinol said, to “send a clear message to the traders and middlemen dealing with agriculture products that the DA will do everything it could to protect the interests of the small farmers.”

He gave assurances that “any attempt to exploit the farmers by manipulating the prices will be met by the DA with innovative ideas.”

Price manipulation

“Lacatan banana producers, for example, say that from a high of P27 per kilo, buyers are now offering only P15,” Pinol wrote. “Since the banana farmers depend on their engagements with traders and middlemen to sell their products, they are literally helpless now.”

“I know for a fact that bananas from Mindanao are sold for as high as P75 per kilo in Baler, Aurora,” debunking claims reportedly made by traders that there is an oversupply of fruits.

Pomelo farmers from Mindanao could only fetch P15 per kilo of their produce for what used to be sold for P50 per kilo.

“This is plain and simple price manipulation.

Personally, I am offended by this brazen exploitation of our farmers who produce highly perishable products.” (DA-OSEC)