By Marita Moaje

HEALTHY OPTIONS. A consumer chooses from a vegetable stall inside the Sta. Monica Market in Novaliches, Quezon City in this undated photo. The Department of Agriculture said prices are expected to increase as Christmas approaches. (PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

MANILA – The prices of vegetables are expected to increase less than two weeks before Christmas, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In a Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez said they have received information that prices of some vegetables have gone up, which he said is a normal occurrence during the Holidays.

Mayroon kaming impormasyon na iyong atin pong mga gulay, galing doon sa northern area, nagtaasan din, lalung-lalo na sa panahog natin sa pansit. Pero base doon sa information natin, bumaba na rin po iyong presyo dahil sa dami ng supply rin doon sa mga area na iyon. So we’re expecting na sana naman na ang atin pong mga gulay na ‘yan na kailangan natin sa Pasko ay ang presyo din dapat reasonable din (We have information that our vegetables from the northern area have also increased, especially those used as ingredients for the Filipino noodle dish. But based on our information, prices have also dropped because of high supply. So we’re expecting that the prices of our vegetables that we need for Christmas should also be reasonable),” Estoperez said.

Vegetables normally used as ingredients for the noodle dish include cabbage, carrot, celery, pea pods, onion, and garlic.

As of the Dec. 13 price monitoring watch of the DA, cabbage is sold at PHP140 per kilo, or PHP20 higher than the day before; carrots remained at PHP100 per kilo; onions still at PHP300 per kilo; and imported and native garlic likewise unchanged at PHP100 and PHP250 a kilo, respectively.

The per kilo prices of potatoes and tomatoes dropped by PHP10 at PHP130 and PHP90, respectively. 

Estoperez said vegetables coming from upland Baguio should not be priced beyond consumers’ reach.

Pero naglilitanya po iyong ating mga retailer. May binabayaran silang ganito, may binayaran na gasolina, iyong handling, iyong tubig, iyong puwesto. Iyon ang litanya nila (But our retailers are complaining – they pay something for this, they pay for fuel, for handling, for water, for the place – those are their complaints),” Estoperez explained.

He said market administrators should help the DA and local government units monitor prices. (PNA)