Ilocos farmers to China President: ‘You are not welcome here’

In recent years, garlic, one of the main cash crops produced in the country, has seen a steady decline because of the entry of the bigger and cheaper garlic from China.

By ZOFIA LEAL
Bulatlat.com

VIGAN CITY – Ilocos farmers have declared that China’s President Xi Jinping, as well as their agricultural surplus products, is not welcome in the country.

Zaldy Alfiler, secretary general of the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation), said the attendance of Xi Jinping in next week’s 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit is not to forge solidarity but to ensure that China’s products can freely enter other countries, including the Philippines.

Alfiler said the entry of China’s surplus goods to the country is more beneficial to China than to Filipinos. “It has also caused our locally-produced goods to increase in prices, leading consumers who have a limited budget to buy the cheaper but not necessarily better products,” Alfiler said.

In recent years, garlic, one of the main cash crops produced in the country, has seen a steady decline because of the entry of the bigger and cheaper garlic from China.

The local garlic farming industry almost went into bankruptcy due to the unabated entry of the China garlic, according to Andres Wailan, secretary general of Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako) in a previous interview with Northern Dispatch.

Wailan said China’s garlic can be sold lower than the locally-produced garlic because it is brought in bulk into the country without having to pay import taxes.

Even the government’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology admitted that “on account of trade liberalization, local garlic faces stiff competition with lower-priced imports.”

Wailan added that for a time, a bulb of China garlic was only P2 while the locally-produced was P5.

As a consequence, farmers who used to cultivate garlic, of whom 75 percent are from the Ilocos region, are forced to look for other sources of income or shift to other cash crops since their income does not come close to covering their cost of production.

Based on the data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the
production of garlic decreased by 11.46 percent from 2010 to 2012.
When the supply for the locally-produced garlic went down, it was when the traders took the opportunity to overprice the China garlic, thus adding burden to Filipino consumers.

Alfiler also called out President Noynoy Aquino’s ‘two-faced relationship’ with China citing the government’s policy of trade liberalization vis-à-vis the arbitration case for the West Philippine Sea.

“The Aquino government will go at lengths to affirm our jurisdiction
over the West Philippine Sea but opens the whole country for the entry of China’s products, even those that we can produce ourselves,” Alfiler said.

On November 18 to 19, the Stop Exploitation will lead the delegates from Ilocos in the People’s Caravan Against Imperialist Globalization in Manila to protest the APEC Summit and its policy of trade liberalization.()

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