Sagada produce making way to Manila
SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE—The new normal in these times of the Covid - 19 pandemic comes to be advantageous for vegetable farmers able to recoup their expenses at reasonable cost by selling directly in Manila.
Now on its eighth run, the local government unit of Sagada through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMAG), facilitate market of local vegetables and other products to Manila with customers having pre-ordered their chosen goods on July 29.
Prior to the imposition of community quarantine, vegetable produce are delivered to La Trinidad in Benguet or in Baguio City before they are transported to other parts of the country.
Prices often vary depending on the supply.
The pandemic however opened new and secured remedies to sell local products to Manila while observing protocols in addressing the threats of Covid-19.
Maria Ap-apid, municipal agriculturist said directly selling the vegetables to Manila through the help of a friend of the town is a big help to farmers who have difficulties in marketing their products at this time of the pandemic.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, Mayor James Pooten contacted Tracy Santiago, a longtime friend of Sagada based in Manila to help in the sale of locally raised vegetables.
Sagada produces tons of temperate vegetables—tomatoes, cabbage (red and green), wombok, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, sayote, sweet peas, and beans the whole year round and its normal market sold in town and nearby places of Bontoc, Isabela and Baguio.
In this new normal marketing strategy, temperate crops including eggplants raised by some 40 gardeners reach Manila twice a month with some 1.5 to five tons per trip the past eight runs since April 7.
Other products carried to Manila are homemade goods— jams, jellies, coffee, ham, etag (smoked meat) and recently pottery goods—all processed by Sagada’s entrepreneurs.
Local products— vegetables and home processed foods—are usually marketed in town and in nearby Baguio, La Trinidad, Isabela and the Ilocos before the occurrence of the Covid pandemic.
Locally made products—jams, jellies, cookies, etag, pickles, woven bags, and ceramics were bought by tourists in town who come from Baguio, Manila, Ilocos, Visayas, Davao, and foreigners having reached their peak at 180,000 arrivals separately in the past two years.
The new normal market strategy of the LGU is made possible with a hired truck and a contact in Manila who does the orders.
Vegetables priced from P25–P40 per kilogram at farm gate price are delivered door to door with reasonable market prices.
Temperate vegetables mostly raised in the food basket of southern Sagada and some at the central town faced marketing problems this Covid pandemic times.
With the Covid threat, LGU protocols require drivers coming from outside to undergo a 14-day stay at the Pegew quarantine site while another homebased driver drives the vehicle home with back-load goods if there are some.
The driver who goes Manila and pass through Baguio holds a health declaration and municipal pass, his driver’s ID and a food pass from the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist.
In two consecutive times during the first and second runs to Manila, veggies transported from town were transferred to a container van of the Department of Agriculture (DA) at Pegew checkpoint where the initial five tons of veggies were eventually transported to Manila.
The driver who came from Baguio was the one who drove the vehicle to Manila.
DA took charge of the fuel and the driver’s allowance twice. Toll fees were paid by the contact in Manila.
On the third run onwards, local vehicles transported the goods straight to Manila. The truck of the LGU transported the goods in four consecutive times to Manila and farmers
paid P7 per kg of their products to answer for the fuel and travel cost. Toll fees were especially paid by Masferre’s and Log Cabin Café from the 3rd to the 6th run.
Beginning in the third run, boxes of home-made jams and jellies and some 200400 packs of coffee from the Sagada Coffee Growers and Producers Organization (SACGPO) are carried each trip to Manila.
Locally made ceramic products caught up in the market in the 7th run.
With the opening up of the economy in Manila in June, orders slowed down reaching some 1.5 tons of veggies. Processed foods were still ordered.
The seventh and the recent trip are now being transported by a private truck and market of local veggies and homemade stuff continues. The municipal agriculturist office still maintains to facilitate coordination of farmers’ products and other home-made stuff to Manila.
Now on uniform transportation cost, farmers and other entrepreneurs who have their goods carried to Manila pay the usual freight cost of P7 per kg of their products for the transport cost. The usual transport cost of vehicles to Manila from Sagada is P18,000 per trip and vice versa.
With goods in quantity at a freight price of P7 per kg, the private truck owner/businessman has to find other products not necessarily ordered by the LGU contact in Manila to recoup his expenses and backload products which maybe are ordered in Sagada.