Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, East-West Seed remains true to its mission of contributing to food security and promoting better nutrition in the country as it rolls out various initiatives to help farmers and communities.
As part of East-West Seed’s COVID-19 response efforts, the leading vegetable seed company in the Philippines turned over a total of 6.7 tons of assorted vegetables — bought directly from farmers from Bulacan, Benguet, and Nueva Ecija — to various hospitals, municipalities, non-government organizations, and hospitals in the country.
“This extraordinary time calls for solidarity and generosity. Our goal is to help our farmers earn more income while contributing to the health and nutrition of our frontliners and communities who need help the most during this pandemic,” said Henk Hermans, East-West Seed Philippines General Manager.
Supporting our ‘Backliners’
East-West Seed recognizes that farmers, also dubbed as the country’s ‘backliners’, are one of the most gravely affected by the quarantine restrictions. Most of them are struggling to sell due to these restrictions and the decrease in the number of buyers.
Jinky Rubio, a farmer from Nueva Ecija, related how their sales decreased since the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon: “Madalas po binabackload pa ‘yung mga hindi nabenta. Pinapamigay na lang din po sa kapitbahay ‘yung hindi nabentang gulay. (We often need to backload unsold vegetables. We just give them away to our neighbors.)”
East-West Seed assisted Rubio and other farmers in Nueva Ecija by directly buying vegetables from them–picking up their produce right in the field and paying them right away at a fair farmgate price.
“Malaking tulong po sa amin ‘yung pagbili ng gulay ni East-West Seed. Dahil hindi na rin kailangang i-biyahe at gumastos sa pamasahe papunta sa bagsakan kaya mas nakakadagdag sa kita, hindi na rin kailangan magbayad sa sakadora sa bagsakan (East-West Seed’s vegetable buying initiative helped us a lot. We can earn more because we don’t need to spend money on transporting our products and other dues in the market,)” Rubio explained.
As of writing, East-West Seed has reached out and purchased a total of 13.23 tons of assorted vegetables from farmers from different areas of Bulacan, Benguet, and Nueva Ecija. Around 6.5 tons of these were purchased by Caritas Kalookan, with assistance from East-West Seed.
Unrelenting service to communities
Aside from vegetables, the company has also been distributing planting materials (seeds, seedlings, potted flowers and fruiting plants), vegetable meals prepared by its employees, face masks and face shields to hospitals and communities.
Some recipients include the municipalities of San Ildefonso, Baliuag, and San Rafael in Bulacan, non-government organizations such as San Martin de Porres Orphanage, Bethlehem Orphanage, Frontline Feeders, and hospitals such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Baliuag District Hospital, Bulacan Infection Control Center, and Rugay General Hospital.
The seed company, along with its professional seedling nursery arm Farm-Ready, has also reported in April that it has earmarked PhP 6 million for its seeds and seedlings distribution program to different communities and groups in the country to ensure continuous access to nutritious vegetables during the COVID-19 pandemic.