Amid oversupply, online grocery store helps farmers sell vegetables
MANILA, Philippines – When low prices and oversupply left Benguet vegetables rotting, online grocery store Session Groceries quickly set up a plan to help farmers.
“Online grocery kami, medyo masakit nga ‘yun kasi yung effort ng farmer, 'yung ginastos niya doon, parang mawawalan lang. So sabi ko, tingnan nga namin,” Iloisa Romaraog, co-owner of Session Groceries, said.
(We are an online grocery. It hurt to see that because the expenses and efforts of the farmer were all for nothing. So I said, let’s see what we can do.)
In the spirit of bayanihan, the online grocery store called for help on Facebook as it looked for a way to connect with farmers and bridge the gap between buyers. (READ: As crop prices drop, netizens call to support farmers)
The next day, it posted a photo selling cabbages, carrots and radishes for as low as 25 pesos per kilo, with one call: “Let’s help out farmers.”
Questions started pouring in with queries about how to buy vegetables from the farmers through the online grocery store.
Although Session Groceries is an online grocery store based in Baguio City, it opened its service to accept orders from Metro Manila.
This isn’t the first time that Session Groceries has reached out to the public to help communities since it began 7 months ago. When Typhoon Ompong submerged Baguio City and other nearby areas in floods, the online grocery store also released a call for donations.
Seeing its success, Romaraog decided to do the same for farmers who have been affected by low prices and oversupply of vegetables.
“Naisip lang namin na magtayo ng grocery store pero along the way, nagkakaroon ng problema yung community. Parang 'yung bagyong Ompong, nahihirapan kami mag continue na hindi kami kumikilos para tumulong for the community,” said Romaraog.
(We only thought of making a grocery store but along the way, problems struck communities. Like with Typhoon Ompong, it was difficult to continue without doing anything to help the community.)
“Ang Session Grocery hindi naman siya malaking business talaga na ang primary goal is yumaman. Ang primary goal namin is matulungan namin more on the community setting,” she added.
(Session Grocery is not a big business whose primary goal is to get rich. Our primary goal is to help more on the community setting.)
Through the online store, buyers from Metro Manila and Baguio can avail of vegetables coming from farmers as far as Mountain Province, Itogon, and Benguet. Although there is no minimum order for buyers, Romaraog mentioned that orders bought in bulk would greatly help farmers in minimizing expenses for the delivery to Session Groceries.
The store presently offers door-to-door deliveries and accepts orders from Metro Manila and Baguio. Though Session Groceries accepts orders from Pampanga, it doesn't offer door-to-door deliveries there yet.
Those living in Cavite and Laguna may soon be able to purchase vegetables from the online store, as Session Groceries plans to expand its reach to those areas. It also plans to create a mobile application soon. At present, buyers can only purchase from the online store through its website.
In Session Groceries, the farmers get to decide the price.
“‘Yung pera na dapat napupunta kay farmer ay napupunta sa kanya. ‘Yun ang binigay ni farmer based sa makikita niyang dapat na mabibili ang vegetable niya. That, alone, nakakatulong ang mga consumers sa kanila na hindi nila namamalayan... Si farmer lang ang mag dictate sa gusto niyang presyo,” Romaraog explained.
(The money that should go to the farmers goes to them. That’s based on what the farmers see as fitting for the vegetables that are bought from them. That, alone, can already be a big help from consumers in a way they don’t even notice...The farmer dictates the price he wants.)
Vegetables bought from Session Groceries also will be in the same condition as to when they were harvested to minimize costs.
“Hindi na namin pinapahugas yung vegetable. Kung paano nila na ani ‘yan, papagpagin lang nang konti para wala masyadong lupa. ‘Yun na ang pupunta kay customer kasi sayang pa yung ibabayad ni farmer para sa manghuhugas,” Romaraog explained.
(We don’t ask them to wash the vegetables. However they harvested them, we just shake off the soil. That’s what the customer gets because the farmer’s payment to clean the vegetables will be a waste.)
If you’re planning to buy from their online store, take note that their weekly cutoff is every Wednesday at 12 noon. Deliveries arrive on Saturdays or Sundays.
Due to the influx of orders, the online store has opened a call for more farmers to satisfy the demand. Those interested to help farmers and purchase vegetables from Session Groceries can do so by visiting the website.
Farmers who also want to sell their vegetables through the store can also contact Romaraog. – Rappler.com