Farmers sell veggies on Facebook to overcome economic impact of COVID-19 lockdown

In light of the ongoing lockdown in the National Capital Region and entire Luzon, farmers from Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan city, along with land reform advocates have devised innovative ways to still earn income despite the strict measures imposed upon residents due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

A week after the COVID-19 lockdown, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) launched the Bagsakan Farmers Market and started selling Bulacan farmers’ crops through Facebook.

Among the crops sold through the Bagsakan Facebook Page include green leafy vegetables like camote tops, snow cabbage or pechay, mustard leaves, banana heart, taro leaves, bitter gourd leaves and chili leaves. Seasonal fruits and root crops like cassava, banana, papaya, avocado and kaimito are also available. Prices are reasonable and much affordable compared to fresh produce sold in groceries and community markets or talipapa.

“People are having a hard time procuring their supply from community markets due to strict quarantine rules such as procurement of barangay quarantine passes, long queues in markets and stores, and the delay of supply from big traders. This is our own way of ensuring that both farmers and consumers are staying healthy amid a global pandemic,” according to peasant leader Antonio Flores. Despite the existing price freeze, prices of food stuff in markets have evidently increased over the past days as a result of the supply chain disruption.

“The online selling of vegetables and crops started to gain broader support last year when palay prices plunged to as low as Php7 per kilo due to the Rice Tariffication Law. Concerned netizens and consumers started to reach out to farmers to directly buy rice from them,” says Marco Silvano, project coordinator of Bagsakan Farmers Market.

“We are getting a lot of inquiries and orders for the Bagsakan Farmers Market. As of the moment, we are only delivering orders for fresh vegetables in selected Quezon City areas. We plan to take orders and deliver on a weekly basis for the duration of the lockdown. We look forward to expanding Bagsakan especially as we expect an extended fight against COVID-19,” Silvano shares.

During the lockdown, farmers continue to grow their crops but are having a hard time selling their crops due to the suspension of public transportation. Many sell their harvest to traders at a lower or almost breakeven farmgate prices. In Benguet, farmers have begun giving away for free some vegetable produce because of very low prices. Some have even disposed of truckloads of carrots which only sell for around P1 to P8 per kilo.

“We also urge LGUs and barangays to buy vegetables and crops directly from farmers to include in relief packs and for use in community kitchens and feeding programs for their lockdown-affected constituents,” says Flores.

Silvano said Bagsakan veggies and crops from farmers’ collective farms are gifts that keep on giving. “These crops that we are selling are products of farmers’ assertion of their right to the land. They continue to till their farms despite constant threats of militarization and eviction by landgrabbers.”

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka launched the Bagsakan Pop-Up Market last 2018 wherein Bulacan farmers would bring crops to sell during mobilizations and activities in Manila. #

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