Local farmers, a.k.a. the backbone of our country, have never had it easy—what more during this pandemic? With losses due to oversupply and palay prices dropping anew, their source of livelihood has been on the edge. Now that we’re seven months into quarantine, action towards one of the most important but overlooked sectors is long overdue.
This is what led young volunteers Rhaiven Severino, She-Chem Gaspillo, Daniel Augusto and Jerome Pacia to do their part. “I believe that these people should struggle no more to survive. They have been working night and day to provide food for our country, and yet they are the ones going hungry. Farmers are appreciated but undervalued,” says She-Chem.
These four Gen Zs—who actually haven’t met personally—got together on Twitter with the common goal of helping the agricultural sector, especially during this crisis. This virtual collaboration bore a donation drive for local farmers called “Puso at Suporta para sa mga Magsasaka,” a Greenpeace Philippines initiative.
hi twitter friendss, i hope you can help me in tjis advocacy. sobrang nakakalungkot yung balitang marami sa mga ani ng ating magsasaka ay nasasayang dahil sa over supply. Kaya kaming Gen Z warriors together with Greenpeace ay naglunsad ng fundrasing para sa ating mga farmers pic.twitter.com/c0XAbRR3fK
— Dan (@augustdnl) September 24, 2020
“Sumali kami at naisipan naming mag-focus upang matulungan ang mga farmers. Sa kinakaharap natin ngayon ang mga magsasaka ang isa sa pinakanangangailangan ng puso at suporta. We believe that farmers are also frontliners,” Daniel says.
For Jerome, their suffering are cloaked in multiple layers. “The passage of the Republic Act No. 11203 or the Philippine Rice Trade Liberalization Law [also referred to as the Rice Tariffication Law in February 2019, made rice importers happier and our local farmers poorer. Because of rice imports, napipilitan ibaba ng ating local farmers ang presyo ng palay. Dagdag ko lang din na mas mahihirapan pala farmers natin kasi La Niña and masisira ’yung palayan.”
As of writing, their campaign has already accumulated P16,200 from 23 donors. With a target of P40,000, the team is hoping that more contributors would participate in the drive. “May memes na lumabas kung saan makikita natin na mas mataas pa ang presyo ng extra rice sa mga fastfood chains kumpara sa presyo ng palay, nakakalungkot man pero ito ang katotohanan. Pero mas masakit isipin na kung sino pa yung nasa posisyon sila pa ang nakalilimot sa ating mga magsasaka,” says Daniel.
At the end of the day, this project wouldn’t only support farmers financially. This would also be a springboard to more collective action for their sector—at least that’s what we hope for. “Let us heighten the value of our farmers by connecting their dreams with ours. Making a change (at least for this one) is supposed to be a system of reciprocality. We help those who are helping us survive,” says Rhaiven.
Know more about the campaign here.
Art by Jan Cardasto