Farm gate prices of squash have dropped to P3 a kilo in Cotabato and General Santos cities and a peasants’ group have urged the government to buy them to help farmers.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said tons of squash are being dumped or are being fed to farm animals because of extremely low buying prices.
“The cause of this problem is the lack of marketing and support by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the government for farmers. It is only the private traders who are buying the farmers’ produce,” the KMP said in a statement Thursday, June 8.
The KMP said that if the DA can create the Kadiwa fuel subsidy program for onions, it can also subsidize the procurement of squash from the farmers.
The group added that local government units, the Department of Education and the DA may devise a squash feeding program in public schools.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry may process squash into instant noodles, snacks and others, the KMP said.
Quoting a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the DOST, KMP said squash is rich with beta carotene and vitamins that are important to children’s nutrition.
“All Filipinos eat squash. There should be no oversupply if only the DA has a marketing assistance plan of our farmers,” KMP chairperson and rice and vegetable farmer Rafael Mariano said.
Mariano said the DA should not blame the farmers who planted squash but the exploitative traders.
“The farm gate price used to be P25 a kilo but it has since droped to P12 and now to P3. The farmers spend almost P50,000 per hectare for squash production per planting season,” Mariano explained.