The Department of Agriculture (DA) together with Resto PH, a group of restaurant owners with outlets situated at various malls, and SM Supermalls signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 1, 2020, for a joint project called the “Farmers’ Produce”. The project aims to provide livelihood support on farmers and fishers and help in rebooting the restaurant industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The signing ceremony was led by Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Kristine Evangelista, Resto PH represented by their President Eric Teng, Vice President Bryan Tiu, and Safety Protocol Officer Mr. Sean Farinas.

“This win-win solution will immensely help us reboot the economy, demonstrating the need to strengthen our food production and distribution systems during crisis and non-crisis situations,” Secretary Dar said.

The DA chief added that the collaboration will also minimize the adverse effect of any disruption on national food security and the livelihood of stakeholders across the food value chain.

The “Farmers’ Produce,” which is set to launch on July 3 at SM Aura Premier’s Skypark, hopes to extend accessible and affordable food for consumers thru a venue that is safe for the public where health protocols are strictly observed by mall operators.

Under the agreement, SM will provide underutilized spaces free of charge for farmers and cooperatives for the selling of their local produce including herbs and seedlings, dairy products, condiments and seasonings, local beverages, and wines.

According to Resto PH’s Eric Teng, the initiative seeks to encourage food growers to produce quality vegetables in large volumes.

“At ‘yan naman talaga ang diwa at katuturan ng ating pangmatagalang pananaw na ‘Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita’ para sa mga kababayan nating maliliit na magsasaka at mangingisda,” Secretary Dar added.

On Friday, Resto PH members will prepare various menus utilizing farmers’ produce. The activity will be participated by Cada Farmers Agriculture Cooperative for highland vegetables, L. Sanchez Farm for lowland vegetables, Liwon Namal Farmers Tomato Association, Optimum Health Poultry and Livestock Farm Corporation, National Dairy Authority, Pasciolco Agri Ventures for coconut-based condiment, Balai Kabute Farm, and Mira’s Turmeric Products.

Vikings, Terry’s, Teriyaki Bros., Eggs & Breakfast Café, King Chef, 102 Izakaya, Mamou, Tasteless group, Bag o Shrimps, JT’s Manukan, Mango Tree, Genki Sushi, Kureji, Cocina Peruvia, and Sen Ryo are among the current partners.

The “Farmers’ Produce” is open to the public from Friday to Sunday, but the DA plans to open more outlets to seven days a week in other malls nationwide.

“We will start in Metro Manila at gagawin din natin sa ibang lugar sa bansa,” Asst. Secretary Evangelista said.

“Resto PH is committed to buy directly from our farmers. They will be the suppliers of restaurant at iyong mga matitira na products ay tutulungan din ng Resto PH,” she said. (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)