January 29, 2023

Through online live selling, a former English tutor from BaguioCity who recently became a plant enthusiast has started a cause to help rose farmers from La Trinidad, Benguet, whose industry is among those badly affected by restrictions due to the pandemic, promote and sell their produce to the public.
With uploaded videos that can be viewed by millions online, rose growers from Barangay Alapang are getting a glimpse of a rosy future for their industry after recently being able to sell in nearby Baguio City all the way to Aklan their potted rose plants, which would otherwise have to be trimmed and re-grown for being classified as “rejects” or over-bloomed.
A space in front of a local bookstore in the city was also lent to Cherry Amor Docyogen last Feb. 14 to take advantage of the demand for roses during Valentine’s Day.
And they sold briskly, allowing the rose farmers a chance to recover from their losses in the past two years and be able to sustain their income in the new normal.
In 2018, Docyogen started developing an addiction to buying plants to beautify her home, but did not fully give in to the urge just as yet in order to focus on her growing family.
When Docyogen, a mother of four, decided to finally engage in the business of selling ornamental plants in March 2021, she focused on “plant hunting” closer to home in Benguet where she learned there are a lot of suppliers, instead of scouting plants in father areas.
“After I quit tutoring and as I focus on my family, I got the idea of fulfilling my addiction to plants by buying and selling them. What I do is I go to the farmers and then kung ano ‘yung gusto nila ipabenta, ‘yun ang binibenta namin,” said Docyogen, who in the process practically became a bridge between the Alapang rose growers and some plant buyers like herself.
She was told about a family of rose growers in Alapang, where almost all of its residents are into cutflower farming and some maintaining spaces for growing roses.
Docyogen said this family, along with other rose growers in the barangay, used to have regular clients before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and a bulk purchase of roses consists of a minimum of 100 pots.
But in the past couple of years the farmers were left with unsold, overgrown plants since they could not deliver them due to travel restrictions. They have to trim the over-bloomed rose plants and apply fertilizers, repeatedly, until somebody already buys them.
When lockdowns were imposed, nobody was really buying flowers from stalls in La Trinidad and Baguio where the farmers used to supply.
According to the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera, cutflower farmers, unlike farmers involved in food security, were among those hit the heaviest by the pandemic restrictions since most occasions where the commodity they produce are needed were suspended.
Docyogen said the farmers were hopeful she could help promote Alapang’s roses, as many of them were becoming frustrated and were planning to look for other sources of income.
“Kasi talagang lugi. Likemany of those we sold last Feb. 14 were the ones rejected for transport for the simple fact they are over-bloomed. If you ship them, maglalagas ang mga flowers. They had to cut and cut so that it will have new stems and will bloom again, and these will be ready after one month, sometimes up to three months,” Docyogen said.
She mulled about the farmers’ losses, and decided to take the roses in pots to the city, “reject” and all.
What made the positive impact on the venture is when Docyogen thought of promoting the roses using online live selling in Facebook, which has become a platform for many micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who struggle to rent a store space, and since many turned to online transactions during the pandemic.
Docyogen took a video of the potted plants and uploaded it in her social media account and in the page account of a group of Baguio resellers.
“We did the video of the live selling doon mismo sa greenhouse nila,” she said.
A photographer she met in the online page also volunteered to take photos of the repackaged potted roses and bouquets which they used to entice Valentine’s Day buyers.
The roses planted by the family first approached by Docyogen were sold out, and by Feb. 14, she was already selling the potted roses in assorted colors produced by another family, who are neighbors of her first supplier.
“Napansin nila na ang bilis talaga ng disposal ng flowers through live selling. And we don’t pay in advance. Kung ano lang ang mebenta namin, ‘yun lang ang binabayaran namin sa farmer,” Docyogen said.
Aside from individual clients, the online live selling also allowed Docyogen to meet many wholesalers and resellers of roses and other flowers to lowland provinces.
They recently sold to resellers that would bring the roses to Quirino province, Laguna, Aklan, Palawan, Camarines Sur, and Bicol.
She said her plan to engage into a small business has somehow turned into a cause for the benefit of the Alapang farmers, which she hopes would encourage the public to continue supporting.
“This is to support some farmers who were not able to sell their products at all during this period. Kawawa ‘yung ibang walang mga puwesto, wala sa Manila, wala sa BSU (La Trinidad), or Baguio. They are just relying on walk-in buyers, especially sa mga wholesalers,” Docyogen said, grateful that the Alapang roses are slowly becoming known not just because of her but also of those who support them in the online community.
She is inviting her fellow resellers to visit Alapang and other barangays of La Trinidad that are into flower production.
Other cutflower producers in La Trinidad are found in Lower Wangal, Bahong, and some in Balili, where MSMEs are engaged in producing hanging plants. – Hanna C. Lacsamana

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