It’s no secret that our local farmers get the shorter end of the stick. Did you know that last year there we had a tomato surplus? This resulted to the farmers from Kalayaan, Laguna throwing away almost P4 million-worth of red, juicy tomatoes. This year, we had a mango surplus where the farmers produced 100 tons of mangoes per week that some resorted to giving it away for free!
Climate change and low prioritization from the government are just a few of the problems our farmers are facing. Not to mention, the Philippines also imports produce we abundantly grow in the country—like, rice and garlic. What do we need to do to help our farmers? Support local. Here are a few ways on how to get your journey started:
1 Buy from the palengke.
Your neighborhood palengke is the best place to buy rice, fruits, vegetables, and other pantry staples. According to Chef Jam Melchor, the founder of Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement and the country head of Slow Food Youth Network Philippines, “Best is to go to your local palengke, if [you’re buying in] small quantity.” He adds, “The Department of Agriculture has a showroom sa main office nila called Agribusiness Development Center. You can get contacts of the farmers directly from that shop.”
2 Shop at specialty and online stores.
Supporting our farmers from different parts of the Philippines is easier with online stores that sell locally-grown produce. Instead of buying imported products from supermarkets, which is usually more expensive, you can buy Baguio’s strawberries from Session Groceries, bundles of vegetables from Good Food Community, grass-fed beef from Down To Earth, and for a more convenient palengke-shopping experience, there’s Atreena.
3 Practice fair trade.
Avoid haggling with the vendors! According to Raphael Teraoka Dacones of Teraoka Family Farm, “Growing isn’t easy. It takes months for certain types of produce [to be ready for] harvest. Know how much hard work is put into growing produce—expenses, labor, seeds. So, pay a fair price to farmers so they could continue to grow more and expand.”
4 Eat seasonally + eat native produce.
It’s pretty simple: buy and eat food that is being harvested according to the season. This way, not only do you support our local farmers, but you also save money because “in season” fruits and vegetables are often more affordable than those that aren’t. Dacones adds, “We have a lot of local vegetables that are being neglected or even forgotten. We are so used to having the regular salad greens like lettuce, spinach when we have our own local Philippine spinach.”
5 Eat at farm-to-table restaurants.
This is a type of movement that focuses on producing locally-grown produce and using it in the restaurants. It’s a little expensive, compared to eating anywhere else, but it gives you the peace of mind that you know where your food is coming from.
6 Volunteer or donate to organizations.
Another way to support our farmers is to support organizations, who have an in-depth knowledge of the local agricultural landscape and want to support our farmers. A few of the many organizations and business out there is MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipuko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura), who help improve the quality of life or resource-poor farmers, and PAKISAMA (Pambansang Kilusan Ng Mga Samahang Magsasaka), which is a people’s organization that helps build farm plans for farmers all around the Philippines. There’s also Cropital, a crowdfunding platform that connects anyone to help finance our farmers.