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High Costs of Organic Vegetables?
« on: October 17, 2008, 07:24:40 PM »
By Aurelio A. Peña
PNA

Higher costs of organic vegetables are forcing many Filipino consumers to turn to their chemically-grown counterparts because of their lower prices.

"Consumers don't really mind whether or not vegetables were grown with chemicals as long as they are cheap," Val Turtur of the Southern Mindanao Vegetables Industry Council (SMVIC), said.

"We can't really blame them for ignoring organic vegetables," he added.

Cheaper vegetables are more important to most cash-starved Filipino consumers due to "the spiraling costs of food commodities" and not health concerns brought about by the presence of harmful pesticides and other chemicals in vegetables grown in Davao farms, according to Turtur.

Some 1,200 hectares of fertile lands in the rugged outskirts of this southern city are planted with a multiple variety of vegetables, especially in the cool hilly districts of Baguio, Malagos, Marilog and Paquibato by over 3,500 vegetable farmers.

Farmers are blaming some banana plantations run by growers of multinational fruit firms for the infestation of their vegetable farms with thousands of pests and insects fleeing the toxic chemicals of the plantations.

Leafy vegetables like lettuce are easily attacked by these pests, according to Turtur, forcing farmers to apply pesticides to save their crops from being devastated by the pests.

The SMVIC has started pushing for "natural farming" among the city-based vegetable farmers, training them how to grow organic vegetables without applying any kind of chemical or fertilizer.

"This is a very good development among vegetable farmer here," says Paciente Cubillas, a consumer advocate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

"It's rather sad to hear that consumers would rather buy vegetables grown using chemicals and pesticides--instead of buying organically-grown vegetables. We understand how the cost of vegetables can swing our efforts to stay healthy," Cubillas said.

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