Even the religious have mobilized to alleviate the plight of vegetable farmers.
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) has initiated a drive to help farmers recover the cost of their production by purchasing vegetables at a price higher than what the crops were being sold for.
In a Jan. 9 pastoral letter, ECP Prime Bishop Brent Alawas has asked the clergy and the laity to participate in the drive where they aimed to buy the vegetables at a price that allows the farmers to earn a little and bring the commodities to the consumers.
“As you may know, vegetables (cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and radish) in the Cordillera are being dumped or left to rot on the fields or on roadsides because prices dictated by traders have dropped down to way below production costs. We continue to denounce the manipulative trading system that creates this situation that drives our farmers into penury,” the letter reads.
At the time of the call, prices of the vegetables were between P2 and P3 per kilo, but the Episcopal CARE Foundation purchased them at P12 to P15 per kilo.
The ECP said they have requested the Department of Agriculture to provide trucks to transport the vegetables to Metro Manila and to the diocesan centers in Luzon.
The vegetables were dropped at the ECP diocesan centers and were sold for P20 per kilo, with the mark-up to cover transport costs.
The ECP said it hoped with the support of the people and its congregations, it could conduct further rounds of rescue operations to help more farming communities.
“We believe that our advocacy against manipulative trading system becomes more effective by directing our concerted efforts towards direct marketing from farmers to consumers that by-pass such a trading system,” it said.
Stories of farmers donating their unsold vegetables made rounds on social media in the past weeks.
Others opted to dump their unsold produce along the roads while some opted not to harvest their crops due to lack of buyers and the low prices of the commodities. – Jane B. Cadalig