SMC building hub for agricultural products

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is set to build a marketplace for various agricultural produce as part of efforts to help farmers and consumers amid the pandemic.

SMC has partnered with Rural Rising PH for the establishment of Better World UP in Quezon City.

“We hope to further boost the incomes of farmers, particularly by aggregating their fresh produce and selling directly to customers here in Metro Manila,” said SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang.

While Better World UP will initially function as a ready marketplace for vegetables and fruits, Rural Rising PH and the San Miguel Foundation will develop programs to teach farming skills and cottage industries to both farmers and consumers.

Rural Rising PH founder Ace Estrada said the property could be used as a food distribution center, where excess produce would  be donated to urban poor communities.

“With this partnership, we are able to move produce that would otherwise go to waste, pay farmers the right price, and bring it to where it is most needed, where it could do the most good,” he said.

The urban poor and the informal sector workers are among the most vulnerable groups likely to face the worst consequences of the pandemic.

“Better World UP will be able to engage and support more farmers, not just to sell their goods, but for it to be a resource center for agriculture-based entrepreneurship. This is one way we hope to capacitate our farmers and make them more resilient during times of crisis,” Ang said.

Since the start of the lockdown, SMC has bought more raw materials for food production from local farmers including 78 million kilograms of corn and 5,000 liters of excess milk from carabao farmers.

Rural Rising PH also moved more than 100 metric tons of produce from the distressed farmers of the Cordilleras, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Tarlac and La Union.

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