IN A bid to help Negrense organic farmers and producers amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, a group advocating for slow food is pushing for the creation of an "Earth Market" community in the province.
Slow Food Community of Negros Island member and organic agriculture advocate Ramon "Chinchin" Uy Jr., on the sidelines of the two-day "Pop-Up Earth Market" at the Kadiwa Market of May's Organic Garden in Barangay Pahanocoy in Bacolod City over the weekend, said the group has recognized the plight of the local farmers and producers, especially during this health crisis.
Uy said the pandemic has really affected organic farmers and producers in the province as they were not able to sell during major trade events since last year like the Panaad sa Negros Festival and Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival which were canceled due to the Covid-19 threat.
"Banking on the positive response of the public, we are planning to make the Earth Market as a regular monthly event starting April this year," he said, adding that "we will also form a community that will gather more organic farmers and producers and help them sell their products."
Dubbed "Earth Market" Community-Negros, the group will work on ensuring market opportunities for local organic practitioners.
Uy said the community, through the monthly "Earth Market" event, will help link farmers and producers to the buyers.
Uy said the Kadiwa Market of May's Organic Garden will also expand to cater to a "more yet controlled" number of participating farmers and producers.
"We wanted to bring them closer and directly to the consumers so they can sell on fair prices," he said, stressing that this will provide consumers the access to good, clean and fair food which the Slow Food Community is also advocating.
Gathering at least 30 organic farmers and producers in the province, that in Bacolod City is one of the two "Pop-Up Earth Markets" launched in Negros Occidental.
The first one was held at the Casa A. Gamboa in Silay City from March 20 to 21 gathering about 20 local organic farmers and producers.
A project of the Slow Food Community of Negros Island, these two new "Earth Markets" in Negros Occidental are the newest addition to the worldwide Slow Food community.
It is one of the highlights of the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto Festival 2020 to 2021.
These "Earth Markets" featured a wide variety of organic products -- from rice, coffee, cacao, vegetables, fruits and other high-value crops to value-added food products like pickles, chips and jams, among others.
Consumers also had the chance to buy fresh herbs and ingredients like "batuan" which is endemic in Negros Island and some parts of Western Visayas at "affordable and fair" prices.
Uy said the two-day event in Bacolod City had enabled participating farmers and producers to earn.
"They are guaranteed to sell all of their products because whatever is left will be bought by the Kadiwa Market," he told SunStar Bacolod, adding that the event is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Tourism.
Aside from the showcase of local produce and products, activities at the "Earth Market" in Bacolod City also included various talks like that on "Opportunity in Cacao Growing and Processing" given by Christhoper Fadriga.
Fadriga is a Negrense cacao farmer and cocoa producer who will represent the country at the 2021 International Cocoa Awards (ICA) in Paris, France in October.
Negrense "culinary rising star" Chef Don Angelo Colmenares also demonstrated how to cook his version of "KBL" or Kadyos, Baboy Langka using ingredients that are widely available in the province.
"Earth Markets" is an international network of markets that work in accordance with the principles of "slow food."
For her part, Slow Food Community of Negros Island president Doreen Alicia "Reena" Gamboa reiterated that the group commits to "promoting and preserving the traditional food of Negros Island" and to changing the local food system one step at a time.
"We are bringing good, clean, and fair shopping opportunities to the local community. The produce are local, fresh and seasonal," she added.
The two-day event, meanwhile, had complied with minimum health protocols such as observing required physical distancing, wearing of face mask and face shield, checking of body temperature, using of contract tracing system, and washing of hands.