The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine took effect on Mar. 17, placing the entire island under stricter circumstances for an entire month in an effort to contain COVID-19.
Despite the measure’s exemption of farmers and other food producers from travel restrictions, six days into the enhanced community quarantine, many farmers from the provinces are taking the toll. Lamenting lack of access to markets due to the checkpoints and limited number of transport options, farmers take to social media to reach out to potential buyers or in some cases, looking for people to give it away to lest they rot.
15,000 pineapples harvested by agrarian reform beneficiaries in danger of rotting
Marinduque-based enterprise and foundation advocating farmers’ welfare and environmental awareness Agrea has been receiving a lot of messages from such farmers asking for help.
One such group is the pineapple farmers from Rizal who in the coming weeks will harvest over 15,000 pineapples, which due to the lack of transport and buyers, may be wasted.
According to Agrea, these farmers are agrarian reform beneficiaries.
At the moment, they are only accepting orders in bulk for logistics efficiency. “We are coordinating with LGUs, villages and condominium owners who need food supplies for their communities,” said an Agrea representative.
Apart from pineapples, they are also compiling other crops from other areas that are looking for buyers. Agrea also posted a list of available crops for sale on their Facebook page.
Giving away vegetables, building makeshift markets in their backyard
In Cabanatuan, farmers who are having a hard time reaching markets to sell bulk of their harvest are taking it upon themselves to reach out to buyers by selling in front of their homes.
A resident farmer in Brgy. Sangitan posted on Facebook that due to the local quarantine’s restrictions on travel, their vegetables cannot be transported into markets. Encha Sanqui, a local reseller, took to Facebook to reach out to government officials for help to sell their stock instead of it going to waste.
Sanqui is currently taking orders for pickup for interested buyers in their community, and suggesting people from faraway places like Metro Manila reach out to them if they know anyone who is allowed to transport from Cabanatuan.
Meanwhile in Nueva Ecija, in the municipality of Bongabon, some are already giving away their produce after failing to sell them.
One seller shared on Facebook that instead of letting them go to waste, they have already given vegetables like eggplants, sigarilyas and green and red chili peppers away for free.
As of Mar. 22, said crops were already sold out to those who picked them up from the seller’s address.
For the government’s consideration
As plans to declare a state of national emergency abound with plans to give President Duterte special powers, support for such sectors should be highlighted especially in the LGU level.
Some of those farmers who took to social media despite knowing that there are local authorities in place to help them like the provincial Department of Agriculture need an immediate response as their main source of income are after all selling perishable good.
Header photo courtesy of Encha Sanqui on Facebook
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE