My school chum, Lisa, known in the blogging world as the Baguio Insider, writes that strawberry picking in the La Trinidad farms in Benguet is a few months late this season. But while the price of fresh strawberries seems to be dropping in Baguio City, from P250 per kilo in late November to P80 per kilo this week according to Lisa, they are horribly priced in Metro Manila and the suburbs. I bought 250 grams of strawberries last night — for P70! Which means I’ll be stretching the 250 grams to eternity. A few pieces for my strawberry milkshake breakfast this morning; the rest will be for my first attempt at making ice cream at home.
In an article published in the Sun Star in March, La Trinidad farmers are reportedly pushing for the production of organic strawberries and the local government seems supportive. There is no data, however, to show if the shift to organic strawberry farming will mean higher, equal or lower production.
The current production of strawberries from the conventional farming is about 20 tons per hectare, based on the records of MAO. There are no available data on the production of organic strawberries yet.
If we are to make an assessment based on the current prices of organic vegetables in the market, it is easy enough to assume that organically produced strawberries will be less in volume. And, as with most organic produce, the lower production is attributed to the absence of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Yet, if we look hard at the situation, if farmers don’t have to spend for fertilizers and pesticides, despite the lower production, the prices shouldn’t go up that much. An offset, really. High production cost = high volume of produce vis a vis low production cost = lower volume of produce. It isn’t just even the fertilizers and pesticides that organic farmers save on but the equipment necessary to apply the fertilizers and pesticides. All of which makes me wonder whether the high prices of organic produce are not, in fact, artificial. It’s a question I’ve been researching on for quite a while. Are organic farmers inflating the prices of their produce because they are aware of the high demand especially in an age where “back to nature” seems to be the most fashionable mantra?