The struggle of the Filipino farmer rarely gets the attention it deserves, but this chef is making sure that’s going to change, starting with this harvest’s mango farmers whose livelihoods are at risk following dropping buying prices of their produce.
Chef Jam Melchor, head chef of Slow Food Youth Network Philippines, is working to spread the word on the plight of local mango farmers.
“What Filipinos do not realize is how significant farmers are to the country’s food security,” says Jam in this Facebook post. “If farmers were prioritized and given enough significance, the economy of the Philippines may have boomed [a] long time ago because of the agricultural sector.”
Last year in Laguna, low prices and oversupply drove tomato farmers to dump their harvest by the ton. Just earlier this year, the same thing happened with carrot farmers in Benguet. The trend of oversupply, low prices, and food wastage is a troubling, to say the least. It’s a cycle that needs to be stopped, one which Melchor plans to break by raising awareness on the issue.
The F&B sector’s role in food security can’t be ignored as “we’re all part of the food chain,” says Melchor. From producers down to consumers, everyone needs to “understand our role to protect our food security. We need to know where our food comes from to be sustainable and to remain food secure.
That’s why calls to action like that of Melchor’s is as necessary as ever to address the struggle that local farmers have to endure to make ends meet. Calling on all processors, retailers, distributors, exporters, hotel and restaurant owners, and everyone else that has a hand in the agricultural market, Melchor says that one simple way to support our farmers is to buy their produce.
According to Melchor, mango farmers are selling their produce at P25 per kilo at four tons per order and at P50 per kilo for exports. Interested individuals can contact the Department of Agriculture (DA) main office at (02) 925 3795 for more details.
The DA has also been doing their part to alleviate the struggles of local mango farmers by planning to launch a marketing campaign to advertise local mangoes. This is in response to mango farmers requesting for government assistance after processors dropped the buying price. The campaign is tentatively scheduled to launch on June 11.
“Let us not wait for the time when our farmers will give up on us,” says Melchor. “It is time to rethink how each of us can help them, even in small ways.”
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