Fruits, veggie vendors suffer financial losses

Fruits, veggie vendors suffer financial losses.
Fruits, veggie vendors suffer financial losses.(File photo)

Joshua Usigan & Ma. Anna Primero, BipsU Interns

A SENSE of hopelessness hangs in the air as vegetable and fruit vendors in Carbon Public Market in Cebu City grapple with the effects of El Niño, causing distress among those who face financial ruin.

For Susan Bajenting, a vegetable vendor, coping with the sight of her hard-earned produce rotting away is a bitter pill to swallow.

“Among baligya malawos ug madaot, ug inig malaya, amo na pong hugasan butangan og ice para mopresko apan makuhaan gyud og timbang so lugi gihapon,” Bajenting said.

(Our products are susceptible to spoilage. When they start to wither, we must rinse them and place them on ice to maintain their freshness. Nonetheless, this process still leads to losses due to its impact on their weight.)

“Para namo maapektuhan g’yud mi kay gamay nalang man ang supply... gamay og kita para lang naay gamay na kwarta, makabayad sa tag-iya,” she added.

(The El Niño phenomenon significantly affects us as it affects our supply chain. Despite minimal profits, we must sell to cover rent for our stall.)

Bajenting said they initially sold their lettuce at P100 per kilo, but last week, due to cost considerations, they raised the price to P120 to cover expenses. With the dry season affecting supply, she said they are contemplating a further increase to P200 per kilo.

As the temperature soars and the rainfall becomes erratic, the once-fresh produce will now wilt prematurely, succumbing to decay before it reaches the hands of the consumer.

Rico Daral Jr., also a vegetable vendor, shared the same frustration with Bajenting as he also experienced a sudden drop in earnings.

He said the sales are slow and it’s quite challenging to store certain vegetables, which are not high in demand, in foam and ice due to their inability to withstand the heat.

Likewise, fruit vendors are also taking a hit with the prevailing dry season, having a ripple effect on consumers, with vendors adjusting the prices significantly.

For instance, a kilo of avocado, previously priced at P150, now sells for up to P200, while cucumbers, previously priced at P25 per kilo, now cost P50 per kilo.

Fruit vendors, however, are capitalizing on increased demand, especially during this year’s Holy Week when people seek fruits and vegetables as meat alternatives during the Lenten period.

“We earned a bit this week because it’s Holy Week. During such occasions, fruits and vegetables are really in demand,” Samuel Montemayor, a fruit vendor and supplier, said in Cebuano.

The repercussions of El Niño extend beyond the market stalls, casting a long shadow over the wallets of consumers, but they have little choice but to pay up.

An eatery owner, who asked not to be named, said she usually buys squash, eggplant, cucumber, and other leafy vegetables, and he can attest to the rise in prices for these items.

However, he acknowledged that vendors are also affected by the hot weather and understood their need to adjust prices accordingly.

While there might be some rain in the city during this period, the El Niño is expected to persist for several months -- possibly prolonging the struggle of vendors to make ends meet.


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