Created on Friday, 06 June 2014

What happens when farmers go into business?

Decades ago, farmers in the Philippines plant or raise livestock only for household consumption. A lot of them practice barter trade, “ I need your crops I’ll exchange it of what you don’t have.” The practice leaves the farmers an unsharpened acumen for business and farming brings such despondency to the next generation.

The practice has become a culture to Filipino farmers bringing a converse effect to the economy and to rural development.

The challenge then is to change the mindset of farmers for them to go into real business. Overnight conversion cannot be done with century-old culture but with the creation of the Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) where the farmers themselves are given the opportunity to manage their own business, then the chance for conversion is greater.

For a long time the residents in the rustic town of San Juan in Siquijor have been buying wage goods in the Poblacion area. Depending on the distance from the market , a range of between P40-P80 is one spends for the transportation cost.

The establishment of the BFT for Carlina Buhi-an, 72 years old, of San Juan , said the BFT is a relief, now with less hassle in marketing wage goods and even in selling their products.

Majority of the around 180 households in Barangay Poblacion are farmers, who, before the establishment of the BFT opted to find part-time jobs due to lack of market of their produce.

Estila Salvatierra, Chairman of the BFT operations said that their investment of more than P400T for the facility and for other equipments paid off. Just like any other business the farmers learned to invest in what is to be a lucrative business. Contributing to the BFT’s asset is the P200T counterpart from the DA RFO 7 which consist of a chest freezer, registered machine, portable safety vault, rice grinding machine, butcher’s knife, digital weighing scale, meat cutter, coconut grater, chiller, meat mincer, and plastic crates.

Think of a situation where farmers run their own business, every cent that comes to their pouch would be accounted. The merging of the San Juan Multi-purpose cooperative and the Barangay Food Terminal makes it an effective business of the more than 1000 farmer-members who now have a display area of their products.


sanjuan bft

The San Juan BFT has benefited both farmers and buyers alike.

BFT – A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Commencing its operation in 2011, the BFT has since been a marketplace for residents in Poblacion, Lala-o, Maite, Can-asagan, Solangon, Tubod, and Cansayang and has become one of the stable businesses in San Juan.

Manning the BFT are nine staff—a positive effect of job generation. But a better impact of the BFT is the indirect hiring of scores of women--members who through the seminars from the Department of Agriculture (DA RFO 7) have learned to process meats and earn by displaying their products at the BFT.

Identified as an age-long problem is how to eliminate the middlemen who earn a lot more than the farmers.

The San Juan BFT completes the cycle of the market chain. An innovation conceived by the management encourages the farmers to produce products that are in demand and the BFT is the buyer of the said products. Jenemy Intong , 16 years old, said she and her parents are beneficiaries of the San Juan BFT-- her parents sell their produce at the BFT , and now she can buy ice cream without going far from her house.

Sustaining the San Juan BFT are the regular customers such as the ‘carenderia owners’, tourists and locals. Smart shoppers prefer the BFT. Why? A native chicken can be bought at P170 per kilo , compared to other stores which sells the same at P200 per kilo, this goes for other commodities as well. Goods are proven cheaper than any other outlets because the farmers are the ones doing business themselves.

Now San Juan BFT has around P50T cash on hand and an asset of more than P500T. If you ask the question what happens when farmers go into business? They are like blooming buds in the rural landscape.

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