The agricultural situation in the Philippines is pretty dire at the moment. The government has declared shortages of staple goods such as sugar, onions, and even garlic. At the same time, some farmers are struggling with a surplus of crops, including garlic growers in the northernmost province of Batanes, who are currently sitting on 25 metric tons of surplus crops they can’t sell due to a decrease in bulk purchasing demand.
This situation is proof of a broken distribution system of goods in the country according to Rural Rising, a social enterprise that helps distressed farmers.
On Facebook, Rural Rising posted a screenshot of a news report about the Department of Agriculture (DA) saying there is a shortage of garlic supplies alongside photos and videos of Batanes farmers stuck with piles of their produce.
“These two graphs came out within days of each other. It’s a national government agency declaring the shortage of one commodity and a local government unit declaring an overproduction of the same,” the group wrote.
This week, Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban blamed the farmers for the surplus, saying they were “not thinking about the market” in planting their crops.
The group said the situation represented “everything we and members have been lamenting so far.”
“Every picture of farmers throwing away their products — whether it be tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, or onions — this is exactly it!” they said.
Known for their rescue buys and Box-All-You-Can events in Manila featuring produce sourced from across the country, Rural Rising said it was trying to get to Batanes to help the farmers sell their surplus crop in the capital.
But hauling the garlic back to Manila will be a challenge due to Batanes being separated from the mainland of Luzon and its airport’s limited capacity.
“Cebu Pacific would have been perfect with the preferential rates they recently gave us, we could simply fly the garlic out. If only they had a station there, [but] the closest one is the one in Cauayan, Isabela, 5 hours away. We are inquiring with WCC Aviation for a private flight and tapping the help of truckers going to or originating from there,” the group wrote.
Interested in helping out? Rural Rising is looking for volunteers to help the cause — in our capacity as private citizens, as they say — while they iron out the logistical details of this rescue buy.
You can sign up as a volunteer by commenting on their post here.