(Photo courtesy of SMC) 

MANILA – San Miguel Corporation (SMC), together with Rural Rising Ph (RuRi), rescued over 1.7 million kilograms of fruits and vegetables from farmers struggling to sell their harvests since the pandemic started in 2020 to date.

In its media release on Wednesday, SMC said its partnership with RuRi has helped boost incomes of about 4,500 farmers from Luzon and provided consumers with fruits and vegetables at affordable prices through the company’s Better World Diliman community center.

“Food security remains to be one of the pressing concerns today and in the coming years, and we are happy to help bridge the gap between farmers and end-consumers by ensuring farmers get better-than-farmgate prices for their agricultural produce to earn higher incomes while offering these directly to consumers, including our employees,” SMC president and CEO Ramon S. Ang said.

“This partnership also allow us to provide a steady supply of fruits and vegetables to our adopted communities in Tondo through our Better World Tondo community center,” he added.

From the 1.7 million kilos rescued, Better World Diliman donated over 14,000 kgs. of agriculture produce, including sayote, cabbage, lemons and watermelons, to Tondo-based communities since 2020 while its more recent Box-All-You-Can activities at SMC head office yielded 2,260 kgs. of fruits and vegetables sold to employees.

The initiative is part of SMC’s program to help boost farm incomes, prevent food waste and ensure the country’s food security amid the pandemic.

In the early months of the health crisis in 2020, SMC’s San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI) ramped up local corn purchases from farmer cooperatives nationwide with quarantine protocols and disruptions in transportation limiting their ability to sell their produce.

This helped guarantee off-take for corn farmers and at same time secured SMFI’s raw materials for food production.

SMC continues to provide rent-free spaces for farmers to sell their produce at the Circolo Market in cooperation with the Cabuyao Agriculture Office in Laguna, and at the San Miguel Market in Sariaya, Quezon province — the latter mainly for farmer and fisherfolk relocatees residing at the San Miguel Christian Gayeta Homes.

“Our efforts are not limited to just helping farmers sell their excess produce to prevent these from going to waste. These also include providing market facilities so they can save on transportation costs and also maintain the freshness and quality of products sold to consumers and also supporting community-based agriculture initiatives,” Ang said.

In 2020, SMC and the Department of Agriculture (DA) expanded “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling stores at Petron stations to help farmers in selling their products to consumers following strict quarantine restrictions. SMC also tapped DA’s network of farmer cooperatives to source agricultural inputs like corn and cassava for various food products.

Meanwhile, members of the RSA Farmers Association in Davao del Sur have used part of support provided by Ang and also earnings from the SMC community reselling program as seed capital for the rabbitry and hog-raising livelihood projects.

They also benefited from Entrepreneurship and Financial Management training provided by SMC through the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority.

Members of the RSA Farmers Association take care of rabbits from Aznar Rabbitry Farms under a rabbitry buyback program partnership. B-MEG personnel give technical assistance while BMEG local feed distributors also extend credit for the feed requirements of the association under the community hog-raising/hog-fattening program. (PNA)