Linking Farmers and Consumers amidst COVID-19 Lockdown: The K-GAT Experience
It’s time to invest efforts in building food consumers’ cooperatives or retool existing credit coops and homeowners’ associations (HOA) which will directly source food from local agri-fishery-forestry cooperatives.
This is the key message of Raul Socrates “Soc” Banzuela, Executive Director of PAKISAMA, as a panelist to the May 22, 2020 online discussion organized by the Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) for its Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) Online Academy.
The ASEC forum aimed to present cases on how SSE principles – socially responsible governance, edifying ethical values, and the “triple bottom line” (people, planet and profit) – are put into practice.
Banzuela showed the case of Kababaihang Dumagat ng Sierra Madre (K-GAT), a start-up agroforestry cooperative of indigenous people (IP) locally known as Dumagat Remontados.
K-GAT was organized in November 2019 with 250 members from five municipalities of Quezon, Rizal, and Bulacan surrounding Mount Irid, to provide a platform for the marginalized women IP members to gain economic and political power in the community.
The women leaders of K-GAT thought it would be more strategic to sell their agri-forestry products directly to urban consumers so that they could get better prices. However, this would be very challenging due to travel restrictions, among other measures, imposed by the government since March 15 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Metro Manila and the entire Luzon were on lockdown, PAKISAMA started to assist K-GAT beginning May 2 with the help of various groups and individuals.
In three weeks’ time, the following initiatives were put in place: a) A farmers market at De La Costa Homes in Marikina City, serving lower middle class homeowners; b) Delivery of food packs to church institutions that are providing relief operations; and c) Online delivery service to urban consumers in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Summing up the impacts thus far: 70 Dumagat-Remontado women farmers served, with farmgate prices higher by 25%; retail price savings of 5% for 355 consumers; 1,233 urban poor families provided with food packs; 100,000 pesos net income earned by K-GAT agroforestry coop; jobs created for 35 sorters, riders, drivers.
Key Lessons Learned:
View the PowerPoint presentation here