LB opens a Friday organic market

by Johanna Marie Drece, Joie April Lanuzga, and Yunika Ysa Lasic

On October 24, the Los Baños launched its Friday organic market at the Los Baños Municipal Hall Activity Area. The organic market manageed by the Gender and Development (GAD) Office opens at 9am and closes at 3pm.

The establishment of the organic market was part of the project entitled “Enhancing Gender-Sensitive Sustainable Agriculture and Aquatic Science and Technology (S&T)-based Livelihood Enterprises in Los Baños” between the Los Baños LGU and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). The project aimed to empower the local farmers of all genders to take on organic farming as a livelihood option, as well as to enhance community entrepreneurship and marketing.

The Friday organic market provided farmer-cooperators an integrated and accessible venue to sell their organic produce. Karen Mercado explained that the Friday Organic Market has helped the farmers gain additional income from selling their products.

The organic produce from the farmer cooperators are also sold at Herb Republic along Lopez Avenue every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month.

Since its launch in October, the Los Baños Friday organic market has gained patrons from the municipal employees. Joyce Del Valle of the Los Banos Budget Office said that purchasing organic produce assure her the vegetable her family would be consuming is healthy and free from harmful chemicals. “Kesa pumunta sa palengke at bumili ng mga di-pesticide na gulay, dito ka nalang,” she added.

Adelaida Castillo, an 85-year-old farmer from Brgy. Maahas, explained that aside from being chemical-free, the produce sold at the Friday organic market is relatively cheaper since the products are directly delivered to the market and no middleman is involved. Farmer cooperators also take home higher earnings. Shifting to organic farming also reduced the cost of farm inputs on pesticides and fertilizers. “Sadyang malaki ang ipinagbago dahil hindi na kami bumibili ng pang abono. Sariling compost na namin ang ginagamit namin,” Castillo shared.

Nestor Pamulaklakin, a farmer from Brgy. Maahas said, “Maganda ang kita ko ngayon. Lamang kaysa noong dati na hindi ako gumagamit ng mga organic. Saka dati, kailangan ko pang bumili ng pesticide. Ang ginagamit kong spray ngayon ay sili at kung anu-anong herb. Hindi na ako gumagamit ng mga pesticide na binibili.” Mang Nestor also said that vegetables grown with the aid of chemical pesticides are hazardous to the health of the consumers so they have stopped using them.

Communities involved in Friday oranic market include Barangays Tuntungin-Putho, Lalakay, Timugan, Maahas, and Bagong Silang. The GAD Office staff regularly visits farm sites to get updates and to hold farmer consultations. The farm visits also ensure that farmers are provided the resources and technical assistance needed and that the crops are grown organically.

The farmer cooperators were provided with technological knowledge through a series of trainings before they were granted the resources for setting up an organic farm. The farmer cooperators underwent trainings on vermicomposting, organic methods and pest control, organic vegetable crop production, as well as postharvest, packaging, and marketing skills. Farm materials, seeds, and planting materials were provided as part of the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD livelihood project.

Karen Mercado (rightmost) and Ellen Ramos of the GAD Office in a posterity shot at the organic produce booth manned by farmer cooperators and GAD Office staff during the first Friday Organic Market at the Municipal Hall. (Photo courtesy of KLMercado)

The organic produce from the farmer cooperators are also sold at Herb Republic along Lopez Avenue every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month.

For more updates on the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD project, visit the Gender Sensitive Organic Vegetable Prod’n for Low-income Communities of LB Facebook Communtiy Page.

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