Providing Consumers Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food
Fresh, Clean, Nutritious, and affordable basic food items like rice, fish, meat, and vegetables are just some of the products available at Barangay Food Terminals (BFTs). The commodities are sold at a lower price than those retailed in wet markets and retail outlets because farmers directly sell their produce in these small markets.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap conceptualized this idea in 2004 as one of the hunger mitigation measures of the government to help poor families in the rural and urban areas gain access to affordable and nutritious food.
The Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service of the Department of Agriculture (DA) implements the project, while the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE), as the lead agency in the implementation of the national cold chain program, provides the BFTs with cold storage, facilities for better preservation of perishable farm produce. BFTs are partly funded by the Japan Grant Assistance for Underprivileged Farmers, also known as the 2KR (Kennedy Round) grant, which aims to benefit poor Filipino farmers.
BFT IN BARANGAY HOLY SPIRIT
Such objective is rightfully met by the BFT in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City.
“[Our] BFT is a great help to poor families in urban areas because they can now buy fresh and affordable foods,” says Norman S. Lahorra, the 51-yearold manager and purchaser of BFT in Brgy. Holy Spirit.
The establishment of this BFT on July 10, 2007 is part of the memorandum of agreement among the DA, local government, and Fresh and Green Fruits Multi-purpose Cooperative (FGFMPC), an organization of residents of Brgy. Holy Spirit that now manages the BFT.
Fresh fish and vegetables come from bagsakan centers in Commonwealth and Balintawak markets, while the supply of chicken comes directly from poultry producers. The DA also provided two freezers for the preservation of meat products, and plastic crates for the vegetables.
Lahorra said that presently, around 10,000 residents, including those from Brgy. Commonwealth, and nearby subdivisions, are benefiting from it.
“[Our primary aim is] to lower the prices of commodities here in BFT, and getting profit is just [secondary],” Lahorra said.
Although faced with both organizational and financial problems, Lahorra sees the bright side of it. “We encounter problems every day, but this is part of the operation and we learn from it.”
BFT IN BARANGAY 649 IN BASECO COMPOUND, MANILA
Managed by the Bagong Lupa Multi-purpose Cooperative, the BFT in Baseco Compound is the fourth BFT outlet established by DA, and is one of the model BFTs in the country today.
Inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza in December 2006, the food depot is benefiting the residents of this 58-hectare community.
Mary Joy Campanera, cashier and in charge of the price monitoring, said that the prices in BFT Baseco are much lower than in other retail outlets. As of this writing, “the price of pork in the BFT is P135 per kilo but in the wet market it’s P150. Chicken is sold here at P105 per kilo but in the market the price ranges from P120 to P130,” she said.
She discloses, however, that although the prices are much lower, there are times when they have limited sales. But they can cope with this because there are times when they derive big profit and, more importantly, they always keep in mind that despite the problems, the BFT is a big help for the Baseco residents.”
To further improve its service to the neigborhood, Domingo Ramos, BFT stockman, requested for additional supply of NFA rice because “the 20-bag supply of NFA rice is not enough for the residents.”
He also sees to it that the BFT has enough supply of other commodities. Its suppliers include the Multi-line Cooperative for chicken, Luntian Feeds Multi-purpose Cooperative, Inc. in Tiaong, Quezon for pork and beef, and the Benguet Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative, Inc. and Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal for highland and lowland vegetables, respectively.
The successful operation of the BFTs in Brgy. Holy Spirit and in Baseco inspires DA to put up more BFTs to open more markets to help more farmers and fisherfolk, and to provide more consumers cheap but quality farm and fishery products. In 2007, DA established 25 BFTs in Metro Manila and 17 in the regions. Bagsakan centers were also opened to serve as Metro Manila’s trading points where farmers can sell their produce at wholesale prices.