After being rejected, farmers forced to throw away tons of surplus tomatoes 

A mountain of discarded tomatoes. (Photo: Dennis Datu of ABS-CBN News)

When life gives you tomatoes … throw them away?

Filipino farmers in the town of Kalayaan, Laguna had no choice but to do just that when they ended up with an oversupply of tomatoes after part of their harvest last week was rejected by traders, ABS-CBN News reported yesterday.

This included more than 10 tons of tomatoes that are reportedly worth PHP4 million (US$73,790.57).

Tomatoes from that town are usually sold in Metro Manila’s Divisoria and Balintawak areas but according to the ABS-CBN News report, traders would return small-sized pieces to the farmers because no one was buying them.

The low demand also led to the drop of the Laguna tomatoes’ farm gate price. However, Marlon Tobias of the Laguna Provincial Agriculture Office told ABS-CBN News that the retail price of tomatoes remains high.

The Laguna Provincial Agricultural Office suspects that the surplus was brought about by the entry of vegetables from other parts of the country into Metro Manila markets.

However, Arnel de Mesa, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) regional director in charge of Laguna told radio station DZMM earlier today that the vegetables coming from Northern Luzon and Mindanao are different and do not compete with those from the Calabarzon region, where Laguna is.

According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the discarded tomatoes have begun to rot. They can’t be used to make tomato sauce or paste because they are of a different variety so they will likely end up in sanitary landfills or as animal feed, Tobias told the paper.

De Mesa told DZMM that they will teach the farmers to plant other crops in order to counter and avoid the oversupply of tomatoes.

The DA plans to provide farmers sitaw (green beans), kalabasa (pumpkin) and ampalaya (bitter gourd) seeds.

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