Different communities come together to help the new generation of food producers
P2 per kilo for cabbage. P4 per kilo for cucumber.
This is the sad reality Cordilleran farmers had faced after spending their hard work earned money to bring their produce to the nearest vegetable trading post in the last week of July. With this cruel rate, it crushed their hope of raising cash to buy seeds for the next harvest.
A sad story for new-gen farmers
For young farmers Shereen Umayat and Jessica Dapliyan, they had another cheaper option aside from selling their crops cheaply, this to let the plants rot in the farmland to stop having additional expenses.
According to Sheeran and Jessica, just to plant and harvest cucumber they had to spent at least P40, 000. And with the above mentioned price for their products, it wouldn’t even give back their capital expenses.
To help the local farmers, there are some programs rolled out such as Sustainable Sagada and Rural Rising, however, these are not sufficed to accommodate all produce, especially from the other remote parts of Mountain Province.
With the series of unsuccessful attempts to sell their products, some farmers started to simply gave away their harvests. One of them is Dapliyan, a former innkeeper who shifted to farming following travel bans.
The birth of ‘The Sagada Harvest Project’
For generations, farmers in Sagada and other towns of the Cordilleras have been trading in marketplaces within the mountainous region. Going to the lowlands is not part of their regular routine. But as they run out of options, they are forced to seek help outside the highlands.
Tapping Metro Manila-based Cordillerans or Igorots is the first rational move. Upon learning about the crisis, Christian Aligo, started the “The Sagada Harvests Project” on Facebook.
With the assistance from Umayat, Menchie Buking of the Department of Agrarian Reform Mt. Province (DAR MP) and other concerned locals, The Sagada Harvests Project is able to sell out about three tons of produce in its first two runs.
A friendlier trade for the farmers
Through this project, farmers are given the opportunity to set the based price for their produce. When the rate at the La Trinidad trading post for cabbage was P2 per kilo, The Sagada Harvests Project purchased the vegetable at P20 per kilo, the as set by the farmers.
To further assist the Igorot vendors, Sagada Linksfarmers Consolidation Center also opened its doors to help screen quality produce prior to shipping. Recently, the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also offered transportation assistance to help lower expenses.
Meanwhile, local food producers Gabay Wines and Food Preserves and Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant have been doing experiments for delicate items like wild blueberry, wheat bread, and goat cheese products to check on the shelf-life of the products when offered in places with a warmer climate.
To know more about The Sagada Harvest Project, contact Aligo at 0956-174-8464 (Globe) or visit www.facebook.com/sagadaharvests