Created on Wednesday, 15 August 2018

By Manny Piñol

The Department of Agriculture (DA) takes its first major step in addressing price manipulation in the market which results in very high cost of food items when it launches the Bohol Fish Market on August 16 in Tagbilaran City.

The Bohol Fish Market which will be operated by fishermen and their families and organized fish vendors will initially offer 5 tons of fresh fish from the fishing grounds of Zamboanga, Basilan, Tawitawi and Sulu every week.

The volume of fish will be increased depending on the demand of the market.

Roundscad or Galunggong is expected to be sold not higher than P140 per kilo compared to the P200 being paid by Bohol consumers now.

Other sea products to be sold during the opening of the Bohol Fish Market are Squid, Tanguige, Tamban and other food security fish species.

The Southern Philippines fishermen's association President Jaydrick Yap said his group could deliver as much as 10 metric tons of fish every week to help stabilize the price of fish in Bohol.

The establishment of the Bohol Fish Market is the DA's response to the complaints of the island's consumers of very expensive fish even when it is surrounded by rich fishing grounds.

A validation conducted by the DA showed that the fish trading in the island is controlled by a few big business groups which tae advantage of the growing number of tourists by selling fish at "tourist prices."

The group which will operate the Bohol Fish Market will be provided with an initial capitalization of P5-M by the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council under the PLEA program.

They will also be trained by the Agricultural Training Institute on Financial Literacy and simple accounting supported by the SM Foundation and Banco de Oro.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will also be supporting the project by providing two reefer vans which will serve as the storage facilities.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr., a former Bohol town mayor, will grace the launching of the Bohol Fish Market at the Agricultural Promotions Center (APC) compound in Tagbilaran on Thursday, August 16.

The Bohol Fish Market is the first provincial level implementation of the TienDA Program of the DA which links farmers and fishermen directly with consumers to lessen the intervention of traders and middlemen.

A recent report by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that while the farm gate price of basic items like pork and chicken only increased by 1%, the market prices showed a significant 5%.

This explains why while prices of farm products remained steady, speculators and manipulators have exploited the controversy revolving around the implementation of new tax measures under the TRAIN Law to increase the prices of food items in the market.