CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Urban dwellers may now have access in buying fresh, quality and affordable agricultural produce straight from farmers and fisherfolk.

Starting August 23, a new distribution outlet coined as the ‘Farmers’ Produce’ is now open to the public, which will initially run until September 20 at SM City Mall Cagayan de Oro (CdeO), Masterson Avenue.

Said food market sprung after an agreement was formed among the Department of Agriculture (DA), SM Supermalls and the Restaurant Owners of the Philippines (Resto PH) to provide agri-fishery producers a venue to directly sell their produce, while eyeing for the involved to spur economic activities amid the ongoing pandemic.

“The first ever ‘Farmers’ Produce’ is staged at SM Aura’s Premier in Taguig City, which championed the abundance of supply and commodities in their respective area. At the moment, we are also replicating such marketing initiative here at the regional level, prominently featuring our fruits and vegetables,” Chedy V. Ansale, chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division of DA-Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) said.

Through the agribiz arm of DA-RFO 10, different farmer-groups from the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon were tapped.

Majority of whom are also the agriculture department’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita suppliers since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.

Included in the roster of exhibitors are the Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives, Miarayon Talakag Highland Farmers Association, Tagpuangi Farmers and Fisherfolk Association, Canitoan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Manzano Farm, CNQ Agri Ventures, Farmgrown Association of Claveria, NM Foods, Kaycee’s Dragon Fruit, Puclawan Fruits, and Lantapan Vegetable Farmers Marketing Cooperative.

Commodities up for sale vary from fruits, vegetables, spices, dairy products, fish and other processed food products.

The joint undertaking will be beneficial for the farmer- and fisher-producers. They can earn decent incomes with the additional marketing platform and enjoy reduced costs for rental space, Ansale added.

She also emphasized, they would be more motivated to produce more with the eyed consumers’ patronage for their local produce, at the same time, the buyers gaining for availing of agri-fishery products at reasonable prices.

On the other hand, SM Supermalls has opened its premises for the food markets to be in place, where farmer-groups can use for free, but in the case of SM City Mall CdeO, for only a minimal fee for almost a month that they can display their produce.

“We encourage everyone, especially for those residing in the uptown area or from the neighboring barangays, to come visit and buy the fresh, quality and affordable products of our local farmers and fisherfolk,” Ansale urged.

She also assured that proper health protocols will be observed with the help of the mall operators and more importantly, that the agri-fishery commodities being sold were produced with the farmers’ adoption of good agricultural practices.

Further, the restaurants are likewise eyed to gain from the ‘Farmers’ Produce’, as they may directly buy in bulk raw ingredients to be used in the preparation of their dishes from the producers themselves.

“We will also be conducting a market linkage, where restaurant owners are invited, so that they can forge a contract with our producers, at the same time, support of our local farmers,” Ansale pointed out.

The Farmers’ Produce project is a collaborative marketing initiative between government and the private sector to invigorate local farmers and small businesses’ operations challenged by the current health crisis.#