LA TRINIDAD VEGETABLE TRADING POST PROFILE
In the early 1980’s, the role of the Municipality of La Trinidad as the vegetable trading center began to emerge. Commercial highland vegetables produced by the whole province of Benguet were traded in the municipality and marketed to different market centers and outlets across the whole country. However, many problems arose. Among these problems encountered were: unscrupulous pricing of vegetables which was unfavorable on the farmer’s part and generally causing an increase on the profit of the middlemen, traders and private financiers of farmers. Marketing problems likewise arose, such that the absence of common trading area in La Trinidad for wholesale operations particularly vehicle loading evolved into sporadic pockets of informal trading areas. The lack of a permanent organized facility forced people to trade along streets or in private bodegas and warehouses, bus terminals and any other open space.
Among the numerous problems generated by the absence of common trading centers were as follows:
- Traffic congestion due to trading along the streets.
- Inefficient distribution of vegetables due to hampered mobility/ pace of transactions in the limited space of trading areas and lack of access to markets of wide distribution.
- Low tax collection due to ineffective monitoring of the transactions of various vegetable trading sites.
- Loss of income as a result of deterioration caused by improper handling and inadequate facilities.
The La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post or LTVTP was envisioned to solve these problems. Under the administration and direction of Mayor Hilarion A. L. Pawid, and a United States Peace Corp Volunteer, Mr. Timothy Slater provided the framework for the first wholesale trading of its kind in the country. The suitability of constructing a marketing and trading facility was based on the following premises:
- Most produce coming from the vegetable producing municipalities of Benguet pass through La Trinidad via the Mountain trail before they are distributed to Baguio City and Metro Manila.
- La Trinidad has established itself as a trading center and held a record of transacting and marketing about 85% of total vegetable production of Benguet municipalities.
- The then-existing trading areas, like Baguio City-hangar Market, could not accommodate wholesale (vehicular type) transactions due to congested market conditions.
- La Trinidad is accessible through principal transportation arteries and road system which are favorable for movement of people and good.
- A bad road condition in the production site was financially and physically taxing for traders who would prefer to wait in La Trinidad. The growth of commercial activities in the area has also provided incentives for farmers as well as traders to conduct their business in La Trinidad.
The LTVTP was constructed from the proceeds of a combination of a grant and loan in the amount of 7.2 million pesos provided by the Economic Support Fund of the USAID. This fund was administered by the Management Advisory Committee under letter of instruction no. 1030. The project commenced on May 1983 and was completed on July 13, 1984. This project was turned over by the United States government on June 1989 to the Municipality of La Trinidad where it also started its full-blast operation.
The LTVTP has an actual cost of twelve million three hundred thirty nine thousand thirteen pesos and 53/100 (12, 339, 013.53). Thirty percent (30%) of which is a loan payable by the municipality within a period of fifteen (15) years and the remaining seventy percent (70%) a grant.
The objectives of the LTVTP are as follows:
- To serve as a venue for more effective and efficient system of marketing and distribution of Benguet- grown vegetables.
- To serve as support to marketing infrastructure to the national livelihood program.
- To provide the producers as well as traders for increased trade and commercial activities for the development of national and local economy.
- To improve the forward and backward linkages in both production output and distribution.
- To accelerate the growth and development of self-reliant communities so that it will develop local capability for better management of resources.
- To generate additional revenues that will enable the local government to provide better public services.
The LTVTP is located at the back of the Municipal hall on the lot owned by the municipality of La Trinidad with a total land area of 9,168 square meters. The complex is made up of four major components namely: “bagsakan” area or covered dock, the trader’s booths, producers/ farmer’s booth, and complementary facilities.
The LTVTP is classified s Municipal economic Enterprise in the exercise of propriety functions. It continues to be of great help to the vegetable industry of the Province of Benguet a sit was able to provide a centralized venue for vegetable trading to the great benefits of vegetable farmers and dealers. The Municipality of La Trinidad as a host also gets its fair share in the form of revenues collected from the management and operations of the LTVTP. Hence, it should be effectively operated by the local government unit.
Today, after the LTVTP project’s inception, marketing situation of the Benguet vegetable industry has radically changed. This is brought about by a tremendous increased demand of a market for fresh, processed and preserved Benguet vegetables in metropolitan and other urban centers. The advent and rapid growth also of chain restaurants, temperate fast food menus (e.g. Mc Donald’s, Jollibee etc.) are geared towards a greater dependency on Benguet vegetables, hence, it requires an increase supply of wide varieties of Benguet vegetables.
Major factors such as natural calamities, the market itself, and the biased or unfavorable attitudes of people in the LTVTP particularly the middlemen/ traders and the private financiers of farmers that greatly affect the supply of the LTVTP as a whole.