With the massive drop in palay farmgate prices—recorded last month as the lowest in six years—millions of Filipino farmers have been losing income.
Among them is Perfecto Semperado of Barangay Manilano, Magdalena. He and other rice farmers from this fourth-class municipality in Laguna say they have been trying to earn extra by planting kamote and banana.
Tough as the situation is, he still manages to think of other low-income Filipinos who barely eat three meals a day. Their plight is not much different, he muses.
“We, farmers, are trying to endure the lower profits, because we are aware that many Filipinos don’t even have anything to eat,” Mang Perfecto says.
To alleviate the situation, consumers around the country have rolled out various projects to help farmers survive. They include employees of digital services provider PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart), who eagerly supported the company’s recently launched Buy Local, Buy Smart campaign.
Under the company-wide initiative to patronize local produce and educate the public about making smarter buying choices, employees purchased freshly harvested premium white and brown rice directly from small-scale farmers—specifically from Magdalena for the pilot run.
Partners from the Municipal Agriculture Office helped mill unhusked rice and facilitated the delivery of the limited-time orders from Laguna to PLDT-Smart’s head office in Makati City.
In the initial run, PLDT-Smart employees raised over P100,000 in sales in just one day, which will directly support rice farmers such as Mang Perfecto.
The Buy Local, Buy Smart campaign of PLDT-Smart was spearheaded by the team behind the Digital Farmers Program (DFP).
The company’s project with the Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute intends to empower Filipino farmers by providing access to digital tools and technologies that can help boost productivity and marketability.
DFP is aligned with the commitment of the PLDT Group of Companies to support the 17 Sustainable Goals of the United Nations.
“The project specifically gives emphasis to the UN’s No Poverty goal, as well as Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure,” says Darwin F. Flores, VP for Community Partnerships at Smart.
The initial run of PLDT-Smart’s Buy Local, Buy Smart campaign was facilitated in partnership with Smart Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Upon the arrival of the delivery trucks at the head office, employee volunteers assisted in carrying the sacks to the releasing area.
“Purchasing directly from local farmers will significantly ease their burdens amid today’s trying times,” says PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon R. Isberto. The team plans to run more rice orders throughout the remaining months of this year.
“In times of struggles, it is important to think of how can we all help each other,” Mang Perfecto points out.
“We thank those who bought our rice harvest, because buying rice directly truly helps boost profits,” he says.
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