ALABEL, Sarangani, May 16- Local farmers from the upland barangays of Alabel have started to sell their farm produce at the food hub launched by the municipal government on May 6 in barangay Alegria.
Every Thursday, the Food Hub Day is held at the Alabel Farmers Scientist Association (AFSA) Bldg., Purok New Bohol in Alegria. (The town of Maitum also runs a "laray" market every Thursday for several years already.)
Farmers from Alegria and the neighboring barangays like Pag-Asa, Datal Anggas, Bagacay, Kawas, Baluntay, and Tokawal were invited by the local government to display and sell their vegetables, fruits, and crops in the food hub at a reasonable price.
According to Giselle Gestupa, End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) focal person of Alabel, the food hub "is an initiative of the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) under the Indigenous Peoples Empowered Agripreneurs towards a Collective End or IPEACE Project of the ELCAC, and supported by the LGU-Alabel."
Last June 2020, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Isidro Lapena, together with the Regional Task Force-ELCAC launched the "Project IPEACE" in the four priority barangays in SOCCSKSARGEN, including barangay Alegria.
Project IPEACE "aims to end local insurgencies by increasing agricultural productivity in IP communities and transforming them into integrated food production sites to ensure food security in their areas."
Gestupa said the food hub initiative targets to "uplift the economic living condition sa atong farmers knowing na magtaas ang ilang income, and then second is mabuild ang relationship sa government ug farmers knowing kabalo na sila asa sila muduol panahon nga naa sila'y harvest), and third is makatabang siya nga ma-attain nato ang food security kay ang farmers nato may confidence ug may reason nga magtanom ug crops nila."
(The food hub initiative targets to "uplift the economic living condition of the farmers as their income increases, second second is to build the relationship of the government and farmers because they know where to go during their harvest, and third is to help attain food security because our farmers will have the confidence and reason to plant)
Farm products displayed in the food hub include vegetables like ladyfinger (okra), squash (kalabasa), eggplant (talong), Chinese pechay, bitter gourd (ampalaya), string beans (sitaw), and many more.
Also, fruits like watermelon, papaya, avocado, and crops like banana, and sweet potato (kamote) can also be bought in the food hub.
Mayor Vic Paul Salarda encouraged the residents of Alabel, including his employees in the municipal government, to visit and buy farm products directly sold by the farmers in the food hub.
Gestupa noted there are no "middlemen" involved, no commission fees, and no rental fees in the food hub, and the local government even provides P100 fuel subsidy for farmers who deliver their products from their farms in the far-flung areas.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Gestupa clarified the minimum health protocols such as wearing of face mask and social distancing are observed in the area.
"At the end of the day, pag may mabilin na produkto, ginapalit sa LGU Alabel so walay produkto dinhi nga iuli sa mga farmers sa ila. Pagpalit sa LGU, ginadispose sa Office of the Municipal Agriculturist, then kung unsa to mabilin ginadala nato sa Busog Lusog Talino (BLT) Kitchen nga naga-prepare ug food sa atong mga Covid-19 isolated individuals," Gestupa added.
(Any unsold products at the end of the day will be purchased by LGU Alabel to be disposed to consumers by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist. Any products left will be brought to the Busog Lusog Talino (BLT) Kitchen which prepares the food for individuals under isolation for Covid-19, so no product will be brought back by our farmers)
With the success of the launching of Alegria Food Hub, Gestupa said Mayor Salarda already plans to expand the food hub in other barangays of Alabel as well. (Jori Mae Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)