Why Help Our Local Farmers?


It isn’t a question of “Why?” anymore. Rather, “How?” as in how we can help our farmers more? should be the fitting query. Fortunately, a long overdue response to the plight of our farmers is now taking shape. Thanks to small entrepreneurs like the Local Goodness PH, local produce from far communities are finding its way straight to the doorsteps and into the table of new consumers. Suddenly, the concept of farm-to-table is slowly becoming a reality.

Jomie Naynes
Farmers in a vegetable farm in Mountain Province gathers their day's fresh produce

As we keep the conversation alive about how we can remain consistent and steadfast in helping our local farmers bring their produce to a wider market—while at the same time, skipping a long line of profiteering middle menit is important to put to heart the reasons why we must HELP our local farmers.

Helping our farmers will uplift their quality of life

The greatest effect of an inclusive economy is to make everyone involved in a supply chain experience major improvement in their lives. The same can be said to our farmers once we help them either by patronizing their produce or helping them market and distribute it to a wider base of new consumers. Even if we don’t move a muscle, a farmer’s produce will eventually reach our tables. But by doing something, like dealing directly with the farmers while practicing fair trade practices, we can make sure they are handsomely compensated for their grinding work.

Audrey Trinidad
Farming is a back-breaking job that deserves proper recognition

Therefore, it’s a win-win for all of us. Us for having more access to the freshest food ingredients and the farmers for earning the profits they deserve by helping eliminate unnecessary roadblocks in the supply chain.

Sourcing produce straight from our farmers provides us with the healthiest food

Food writer Tina Punzal who makes up the other half of the widely-read lifestyle blog Hungry Travel Duo emphasize the importance of proper food nutrition for all. This can be achieved by working closely with our farmers.

Farm tourism in the Philippines
Session Groceries source fresh vegetables straight from local farms and help sell it in Metro Manila

With everyone mostly at home right now, food nutrition has never been more important. So, I think it's high time we turn to buying local. Not only can we source them at fair trade prices, but we also get the best and freshest local produce from our farmers who truly need our patronage, especially during these trying times. How to do this? Join, support, discuss about local groups who facilitate direct produce sourcing from our farmers like Session Groceries, The Igorot Produce, etc. Small ways, accumulated, can produce a social movement!” Punzal said.

We need to lure younger people into farming

Farming is an admirable source of livelihood that has driven the success of many civilizations of the past. Through the years, because of its reputation as a low-income generating occupation, this vocation has struggled to attract younger people. A recent survey indicated that most farmers in the Philippines belongs to the 50 years and up age group.

Alyanna Bromeo
This blogger with a young farmer in Mountain Province

“The average age of the Filipino farmer is 57 to 59 years old—that’s almost the retirement age! If this does not move us into a collective action to help our food producers, I don’t know what will” pleads Alek Dela Cruz, a Broadcast and Executive Producer at Baked Studios.

By helping our farmers succeed, we also raise the status of the farming profession in luring younger people—from both the country sides and urban areas—to indulge in a career in agriculture. Achieving this will greatly increase our country’s food security and help many communities to become self-sustainable.

Produce a domino effect of jobs creation

When we help our farmers, other people also get to experience the many positive results. The agriculture business—if done correctly—can spread the rewards equally and wide, passing good fortunes to everyone involved in the whole supply chain (minus the enterprising middle men and rich businessmen).

Levy Amosin, Celine Murillo, Gretchen Filart
One the several batches of Atis fruits shipped to Manila from Romblon

One such example is the on-going project by Emelyn Balabat in the island of Cobrador in Romblon. She called it the “Cobrador Sweetest Atis Project”. An off-shoot of her Bayanihan Eco-Project on the island where she led the construction of a new library using recycled products, Balabat spent the lockdown months shipping off newly-harvested atis fruits (sugar apple or sweetsop) from Cobrador to Metro Manila.

According to our record, from August 25 to September 26, 2020 alone, we managed to ship a total of 5,848 kilos of atis. Thanks to the people who saw our post online and ordered, the once-a-year harvested atis fruits greatly benefited the island’s farmers. Not only that, it also created a lot of jobs that added to the local's income and supporting local economy” Balabat said.

Balabat added “Aside from the 41 atis farmers who benefited from the project, there were 6 basket weavers, 7 boat owners, 9 local men and women packers, 5 pedicab and tricycle drivers, 9 porters, and countless delivery drivers (in Metro Manila) became part of the whole supply chain”.

Build meaningful relationships to communities

The Local Goodness PH has been able to foster a meaningful relationship with several farming communities since it started packaging and marketing local produce to a wider market in Metro Manila.

Turmeric farm in Mountain Province
Nanay Theresa Farnican and her fellow Turmeric tea farmers

In our previous blog post, we shared the story about a community in Mountain Province where a group  of mostly mother farmers found modest success in harvesting turmeric tea with the help of the Local Goodness PH.

Turmeric Tea_Anne Marie Cunanan
A packaged turmeric tea ready to be sold through the Local Goodness PH

"Before, we would sell our turmeric and ginger harvest house to house in our community. It was hard that we would always stop after a year and would plant again only if there is another demand—which was always in small quantities" Nanay Theresa Farnican told us over a phone interview in Tagalog. "Today, after the Local Goodness started taking orders for us, it motivated us to keep planting turmeric and ginger. Turmeric farming isn't easy because it takes almost a year to cultivate it. With the help of the Local Goodness, we cannot stop now" Farnican adds.

Promote farm tourism to the countryside

Another positive effect of helping our farmers is the additional promotion to the farm tourism industry. Recently, the Department of Tourism (DOT) cited farm tourism as an integral factor in the formation of a sustainable and inclusive development in farming communities around the country.

Sophie Gianan
Northern Blossom Flower farm in Atok, Benguet

"We at the DOT are looking forward for Farm Tourism to serve as a catalyst for greater sustainability; we know that we can now pursue it properly, guided by the IRR. Farm Tourism holds the promise of food sufficiency and additional income for our tourism stakeholders, including farmers, farm workers and fisherfolk. After all, gainful employment, enhanced productivity and sustainable livelihoods are what tourism is all about," said Puyat.

Jessica Cuenca
You can buy directly from the farmers when you visit their vegetable farms

The highlands of the Cordilleras are now being groomed as major farm tourism destinations. From the blooming flower farms of Atok to the lush vegetable farms in Mountain Province, one can see the vast potential of achieving not only adequate food security but also an accessible supply route to source fresh produce while mixing it up with leisure activities such as sightseeing and relaxation.

While we can come up with a dozen more reasons on why we should help our farmers, the benefits and nutritional wonders they bring to our table cannot be matched. In the end, it is them—our farmers—who are really helping us and not the other way around. Just by providing us enough food security to last through the rainy days, is something we treat with a great debt of gratitude. Because of that, it’s our time to step up and lend them a helping hand to the real food producers in our country.