Many Filipinos have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. From frontliners to the Filipino masses, livelihoods have been threatened in various ways. Among these is a group experiencing a silent struggle: the farmers in remote areas.
The lack of an effective way to distribute their produce means thousands of kilos of potentially rotting vegetables. Concerned about the huge gap between the farmers’ fields and the waiting tables of frontliners, Shell through its social arm, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. has come up with the Ani Para sa Bayani initiative to help farmers move their produce and bridge the wide supply chain gap.
Sparking the Spirit of Bayanihan Early On
To date, Ani Para sa Bayani has tapped several rural farming communities who have struggled to distribute and sell their crops. More than 480,000 meals have been delivered to the tables of exhausted frontliners all over the Philippines, with only one intent: to fuel and nourish their spirit and help them continue the fight.
Ani Para sa Bayani’s pilot program began as early as the last week of March, when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took full effect. Shell identified the struggles of Tanay farmers, helping them transport almost two tons of fruits and vegetables to Frontline Feeders Philippines (FFP). To date, FFP was able to create 220,000 healthy meals to support healthcare workers in 38 hospitals in Metro Manila.
The venture branched out to different remote areas nationwide. Shell, in partnership with World Vision Philippines, tapped farmers in Cordillera, Benguet, Quezon, Davao, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon for fresh produce, which were then transformed into 78,000 meals delivered to healthcare professionals in various city hospitals.
“Remote areas are hit the hardest, because much of the containment efforts have been focused in the city,” said PSFI’s Sebastian “Baste” Quiñones. “This is really a tough situation to balance, which is why we wanted to make sure that we own the responsibility of taking care of our communities.”
Arming More Filipinos with Nutritious Food
Remaining committed to helping its communities, Shell also distributed healthy food packs to its communities and beyond. Ani Para sa Bayani utilized excess produce, packing and shipping them to households in need. Over 194,000 were given to Shell communities in Puerto Princesa, Batangas, and Cagayan de Oro, as well as to vulnerable members of the community in Davao, Cebu, and Metro Manila.
“We don’t feel tired of planting, harvesting, delivering, and packing our crops, because we know that these fresh vegetables will no longer go to waste,” said Rachelle Bogsit, a Benguet farmer representative. “We know that it’s going to help our frontliners and even our fellow Filipinos get through this crisis. This is our way of helping in healing the nation as one.”
Bogsit and her team understands that even the food packs can be a source of protection, during a time when a strong immune system is a big plus.
“Our biggest challenge is the fear and risk of being infected ourselves,” added Bernardo Camano, Jr., a Pililia team member. “But it’s something that we are all driven to do because it’s for the nation.”
Camano and his team embody Shell’s mission of nation-building as they commit to practicing the standards of safety that the energy company has been known for. Because for every farmer and fisherfolk whose livelihood is still being threatened, every frontliner who needs full support to keep fighting, and every Filipino who is willing to play their part in defeating COVID-19, there is still room for Ani Para sa Bayani to grow more and give more.
Other partners helped deliver food from farms to frontliners including several community kitchens in Palawan, the Manila Social Welfare and Development Office, the Office of the Vice President, Philippine General Hospital, and Puso ng Ama Foundation Inc.