We all know that the Philippines has vast agricultural land, with a high potential for success. In fact, Philippine Agriculture for 2019 is expected to have a production output growth of around 2.4% – 3%. The industry is booming, and it’s an important driver for the continued growth of the Philippine economy.
For 2020, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has a lot of plans to push the agricultural sector in order for it to flourish. As Filipinos, we should be part of that progress in any way we can.
From our gathered stories and experiences, we’ve provided you a simple list that can serve as a reminder on how to support our thriving agricultural sector:
1. Buy from local markets/merchandisers
Nothing screams fresh produce than your local palengke. Shopping for your meals’ ingredients is an experience in itself. With just a mention of the word palengke, you can already imagine the calls of the local vendors to their stalls, the smell of fresh produce, and the tiring but always interesting walk around the place to see what each stall offers.
Local markets source their goods from our local farmers. Some sell their own produce as well. For those living in the cities where farmers and farms aren’t as common, public markets are your best bet. They serve as the bridge between the consumer and buyer, and it’s always worth it to buy local. Not only will your ingredients be fresher – you’ll also be supporting your local economy.
2. Stay informed
With progress comes the issues that are associated with it. A hot topic last year was the plight of our farmers, and talks on fair trade, due to the passing of the Rice Tarrification Law. Keep tabs on the latest news and discussions. These will help you think of more ways to ensure that farmers are getting what they deserve, and help the agricultural industry prosper.
An understanding of the Rice Tarrification Law can be the first step for you to actually be engaged in meaningful discussions. Knowing its contents and intention, you can be sure to have informed discussions, and not just end up throwing around emotional arguments.
3. Share our farmers’ stories
In this age of technology, sharing is a powerful tool. We share our personal encounters and rants, but we also share things that are valuable to us. A lot of profit can also be made just by sharing on social media. We can utilize this tool by introducing and helping our local farmers tell their stories. This way, they’ll be able to reach and sell to even more people in different places.
There are a lot of stories like this on social media. A taho vendor who sells mango-graham-flavored taho, was featured on local TV when a post of one of his regular customers from Facebook went viral. Session Groceries, an online platform for buying groceries and fresh produce directly from the farms, has helped farmers, and is utilizing their social media presence to help spread stories of our local farmers.
The world is a smaller and more connected place due to the internet. It’s easier to reach out and create more connections. Let’s give our farmers the extra social media mileage by sharing their stories.
4. Eat when it’s in season
The Philippines may not have 4 varying seasons, but we have different seasons where our fruits are ready for picking and consumption. Avocados, mangoes, rambutan, and lanzones are a few of our much-awaited fruits to be in season.
It may be common sense, but the best time to consume these seasonal fruits are when they are in season. These are true not just for you as a consumer, but for the farmers as well. There’s an abundance of the fruit when it is in season, so it’s best to patronize them during these times. Fruit farmers have been waiting for this season because they know this is when they’ll make the most money.
This way, we pay tribute for the patience and hard work of our local farmers. It’s a win-win really; farmers get paid, and you get the fruits at their optimal condition. Everything tastes better when enjoyed at the right time.
5. Volunteer at agricultural communities
Local farms highly encourage volunteers, especially the youth, to work with them in order to fully understand their lives and the importance of our own agricultural sector. There are a lot of farm tourism activities, open to both locals and foreigners, that will teach you a lot about agriculture.
There are local organizations that organize and encourage farm tourism in local provinces. Check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Philippines (WWOOF), Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, and AGREA Philippines.
There are a lot of efforts in other small-town communities as well. There might even be some in your area. Visit DAR’s official Facebok page or contact them directly to inquire about any efforts that you might be interested in.
The Philippine Agriculture sector has been making noise, speaking their truths, and presenting themselves to the world. It’s up to us to listen, and do something about it.
As Filipinos, this is where our spirit of Bayanihan should come in. Let’s do our part to contribute and make sure that all roads lead to a #BetterPhilippines.