Local farmers struggle with unsold excess crops amid pandemic. Here’s how to help.

March 26, 2021 - 6:51 PM
A photo of Cagayan farmers (Rural Rising Philippines/Facebook)

A social enterprise launched an initiative to help farmers in Cagayan who are struggling to sell their excess stocks of vegetables such as carrots, cabbages and other crops.

Rural Rising Philippines, a non-government organization that advocates agri-entrepreneurshup, shared the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to farmers in the countryside, particularly farmers in Sto. Niño in the province of Cagayan.

In a post on March 19, the organization shared that a couple who owned a farm in town was forced to harvest and sell at least 120 tons of their cabbages to pay off a debt.

“Last year caught the cabbage farmers of Cagayan entirely by surprise. And they were forced to plow the cabbages rather than lose more money to harvest them. 120 tons, and that’s only in the Baltazar couple’s farm. Can you imagine how much that is, how heart-breaking this is?” the post read.

This year, the couple faced a hefty 80-ton worth of cabbage that will soon rot and lose a lot of money again if they were not sold in time.

“It is almost too incredible to imagine that these poor people are in the same situation last year. It’s the same rotten reason that is gouging our farmers everywhere—this pandemic and its long-term effect on demand and logistics. How many times this was the reason? How many times more? How many more farmers? How many more years?” said Rural Rising.

Such anecdote is the same for the farmers in Sto. Niño, the group said. They described the case of overproduction as “a giant ugly monster” that threatens farmers’ lives.

“First broccoli, then cauliflower, then tomatoes and now RAREBALL CABBAGES. The problem of overproduction in this country is a giant ugly monster that threatens to eat our farmers alive. It takes so much courage to be a farmer in this country and you can only wonder why they choose to take a loss year after year,” they said.

The organization also attached a video showing the farm of cabbages captured by the couple’s son.

How to help

The group launched a vegetable rescue initiative through their online platform at Home | Rural Rising PH where customers in other parts of the country could purchase various types of crops in bulk from farmers Cagayan.

That time, they sought for 200 buyers of 20 kilos of cabbages worth P499.

In an update of the situation on March 26, more crops were made available on its website. These include sayote, carrots, cabbages, kamote, cauliflower, ube jam and pumpkin.

The post also included the schedule for delivery for each product.

“Thank you dear friends, we tell ourselves every day that we could not do these without you,” Rural Philippines said.

‘Salamat sa ani’

Popular ride-hailing firm Grab Philippines also partnered with Zagana, another agri-social enterprise, to launch a venture called “Salamat Sa Ani” to help farming communities in the country.

Through this initiative, Grab consumers can purchase fresh produce from farming communities who are part of Zagana via the former’s app.

Zagana’s Chief Executive Officer Joshua Aragon welcomed this partnership, citing a win-win situation to both the local farmers and Grab’s delivery personnel.

“The pandemic has truly impacted a lot of lives. Our partnership with Grab has allowed us to continuously serve our customers and support our local farmers, by leveraging Grab’s platform and technology to provide our kababayans access to fresh produce, delivered right at their doorsteps while providing livelihood for both the delivery partners and local farmers during these uncertain times,” Aragon said.

Likewise, Grab Philippines Country Head Grace Vera Cruz also pointed out that Grab’s technology can help local farmers reach more people.

“We are grateful to have made a difference in the lives of millions of Filipinos through our GrabForGood program and we will continue with our commitment of using technology and our platform to encourage meaningful collaboration within our communities and help our kababayans overcome their daily struggles,” Vera Cruz said.