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‘Cold stores’ linked to veggie smuggling

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar revealed yesterday that smugglers are using “cold stores” in their illicit trade.

While going around the country to inquire on agricultural smuggling, Villar said she found out that smugglers were paying cold stores in the provinces to reject for storage the crops or harvest of farmers or farmers’ groups and cooperatives.

“Once local produce were rotten, the imported ones, including those smuggled, would be saleable,” she said.

Villar said her committee earlier received reports about this nefarious practice of smugglers that adversely affected Filipino farmers and the agriculture sector.

She said they found out that the cold stores were empty although they were earlier registered as they are full.

“I pointed this out because I do not want the CCAP (Cold Chain Association of the Philippines) and its members to be dragged in the smuggling issue,” she stressed.

“I know that like any legitimate and upstanding organizations, you can police your ranks. You also represent their individual and collective interests in policymaking, standards-setting and industry development,” she stated.

She also acknowledged that the concerted efforts of the two industries – agriculture and cold chain companies – would surely result to more business and economic gains.

Speaking during the 14th annual general membership meeting and training conference of CCAP, Villar lauded the importance of the services provided by cold chain companies to the agriculture sector. (Mario B. Casayuran)