In Ilocos, a Tough Time for ‘Pinakbet’

Northern Dispatch

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte? Pinakbet vegetables here, 487 kms. north of Manila, have run out of supply after typhoon Pepeng damaged multi-million pesos worth of high-value commercial crops.

The favorite vegetable ingredients of the local pinakbet dish are now being sourced out from Metro Manila and Davao. With this, prices of vegetables in the Laoag supermarket and other markets in the entire province have almost tripled.

Market vendors at the Laoag supermarket, like Faye Dalere, said last Friday October 16 that they could not do anything but to increase their prices because of the high cost of transporting these vegetables from sources outside the province.

As of press time, prices of vegetables at the local market in Laoag City are pegged at P110 ($2.35) per kilo for ampalaya (bittergourd), eggplant P100/kg. ($2.14/kg), okra and string beans P80/kg. ($1.71), tomatoes P45/kg. ($0.96/kilo).

Prices of local green leafy and other common vegetables increased by P5 to P10 ($0.11 to $0.22) per piece.

Another vendor, Gemma Asuncion said because of the scarce supply of vegetables from Baguio like carrots, cabbage, pepper and beans, its prices have also increased.

As of press time, carrots are being sold here at P120 ($2.57) per kilo, P80/kg (($1.71) for cabbage, potatoes and sayote.

According to the monitoring team of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Agriculture Office for high value commercial crops, they have no control over prices but can only suggest the retail price for agricultural products, considering the high cost of transport.

The DA officials however noted that prices of vegetables may soon go down once local supply in the province stabilizes.

The Provincial Disaster and Coordinating Council of Ilocos Norte, earlier reported that rice crops and high value commercial crops such as vegetables accounted for most of the estimated P450 million ($9,644,234) damage in agriculture.

To date, local farmers here have yet to wait for good weather before they could plant again. The provincial government and the Department of Agriculture pledge to allocate some funds for the purchase of hybrid rice and fast-growing vegetable seeds to augment consumers’ demand.

Meanwhile, consumers here prefer to buy cheaper beans and meat products instead of buying expensive vegetables but those who love pinakbet, the famous Ilokano dish of mixed vegetables with bagoong (fish sauce) have to contend with the prevailing market price. (Leilanie Adriano / Northern Dispatch)

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