Horses are the main means of hauling the vegetable harvests in the uplands of Liliw, Laguna where a lot of vegetables are grown in the rugged terrain of the place, characterized by deep ravines and sporadic flat areas. Many of the growing areas are accessible only to horses so horse owners are making good business transporting the harvests to the lower elevation where assemblers can be accessed by vans and smaller vehicles because big trucks are not advisable to use.
In the three upland barangays (villages) of Novaliches, Luquin and Ilayang Sungi, no less than 360 hectares are planted to vegetables by members of a cooperative. The vegetables that are grown in big volumes are tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, hot pepper and others. In the lower elevation, ampalaya and eggplant are also grown.
Tomatoes are particularly produced in big volume this time (April-May to June) so that these are the main cargo of the horses. Each horse can carry 120 to 160 kilos per trip and the horse owner is paid P1 per kilo. One horse can make 8 to 10 trips in one day, so the horse owners are making money.
The problem is that the farmers are complaining about the low buying price of tomatoes. The going price for the 50 grammers is P6 to P8 per kilo. There are smaller ones for which buyers offer only P4 per kilo and they can’t buy them all. So the farmers just throw away those that are not bought by the traders.
Meanwhile, in Metro Manila, tomatoes that are selling for P6 to P8 in Liliw farms are being sold at P80 per kilo. This morning (May 28), I checked one supermarket and five pieces in a small plastic bag has a tag of P8!