Farmers ready to produce food during extended lockdown, urgent aid from gov’t needed
Three weeks after starting the online Bagsakan Farmers Market on Facebook, Bulacan farmers from Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte towns have sold almost four tons or 4,000 kilos of various vegetable produce to consumers in Quezon City and non-government organizations conducting relief operations and food kitchens for frontliners and marginalized sectors.
The online farmers market which was launched on Facebook last March 21 is selling sustainable farm produce. Among the initial customers of the Bagsakan Farmers Market include Churches, religious congregations, homeowners associations, and residents of Quezon City. The market is also receiving many inquiries from netizens from other cities and provinces.
“Farmers fully realize their crucial role as food security frontliners. They sell their crops almost at cost to people who are also affected by the lockdown. The Bagsakan Farmers Market promotes peoples collective action and compassion among sectors during this pandemic,” says Antonio Flores of Tanggol Magsasaka.
“Hindi mauubusan ng biyaya at pagkain mula sa lupa basta patuloy kaming makakapagtanim. Masaya kami na matiyak ang pagkain ng mga frontliners at mga kapwa namin ordinaryong tao,” (We can assure abundant food and produce from farms as long as we can plant and harvest crops. We are happy to be of help to our fellow frontliners and ordinary people), says Cecilia Rapiz of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB-KMP). Rapiz said farmers need urgent assistance from the government in the form of cash aid, seedlings, organic fertilizer, farm tools, farm animals, and production subsidies to support non-stop food production. “We need aid, not loans.”
Farmers of AMB in San Jose Del Monte are the main suppliers of the Bagsakan Farmers Market which sells seasonal veggies and fruits including eggplant, ampalaya, sweet potato, cassava, banan heart, snow cabbage or pechay, saba or sweet plantain, kaimito, fresh and dried taro leaves, taro shoots, among others. The farmers follow biodiversity farming and grow the vegetables and fruits in their small family-farmed plots — a product of their decades of collective assertion of their right to the land.
Once a week, the Bagsakan Farmers Market source newly-harvested crops from farmers and deliver at specific pick-up points in Quezon City. Orders are placed online and proper social distancing etiquette is observed during deliveries. Part of the proceeds of the market was also used for the Sagip Kanayunan relief operations for farming families.
“There is no public transport so it is hard for consumers to go to markets or groceries. We prefer buying directly from farmers because we know that we are helping their families. We hope that the government provides them with adequate production subsidies and immediate aid,” according to Donna Miranda, a regular customer of the online veggie market. ###