The House of Representatives (PNA file photo)

BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Jose Franciso Benitez has proposed a law that will create agricultural trading centers to be known as “Bagsakan ng Bayan Market” in every province.

House Bill (HB) 4303, filed by Benitez on Wednesday afternoon, cited President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s commitment to strengthen agriculture and pledged higher investments in infrastructure in the agricultural value chain to increase productivity and profits.

“This presidential pronouncement signals continuity in government policy to facilitate and enhance access of farmers and fisherfolk to markets,” the lawmaker said in the bill’s explanatory note.

He noted that the President recognized in his first State of the Nation Address that agriculture is the backbone of the Philippine economy, being a major source of employment in the country.

According to the bill, an agricultural trading center refers to a site for the trading of agricultural commodities in large quantities, usually at or near transportation hubs within or near major cities, supplied by assembly markets in rural areas or directly from farms.

Benitez said a Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture study on fruit and vegetable value chains in the Philippines articulates the importance of developing post-harvest, processing, and marketing facilities.

He also cited a study by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development on a post-pandemic agricultural supply chain that suggests re-engineering regional warehousing and cold chains for agricultural produce.

“Clearly, we need an integrated system to bring agricultural commodities to wider markets, which requires adequate infrastructure and coordination at different points in the agricultural value chain,” Benitez said.

He added that HB 4303 introduces the hub-and-spoke model that directly connects producers or aggregators from local food terminals to a single apex location, thereby creating agglomeration economies for agricultural commodities.

“The goal of these centers is to provide an avenue where farmers and livestock raisers can directly sell their products to institutional buyers and gain higher profit. Moreover, this endeavors for higher mobility for locally produced agricultural products to the whole country for cheaper cost of transportation,” a portion of the bill stated. (PNA)