BY VINA MEDENILLA
As the pandemic forces many businesses to shift online, many consumers also resort to buying their essentials digitally.
The web serves as an open area that many enterprises can use and benefit from. Online freedom also allows the public to easily express their opinions, reviews, and support in terms of the businesses’ products and prices.
Session Groceries is a shopping app that markets fresh produce from local farmers so shoppers can directly support and buy from Filipino-owned agribusinesses.
In their recent post on Facebook, Session Groceries shared an inquiry they got from a customer complaining about why the prices of the local farmers are high when they do not have a huge overhead.
The post reads, “This post is to educate po. Yung concern po ng customer is valid and we’re so glad na sinabi [niya] para mabigyan ng chance mag explain ang kasamang magsasaka” (The customer’s concern is valid and we’re so glad [the customer] said this so our fellow farmers can have a chance to explain.)
Screenshots of the conversation between the store and the consumer were also presented in the post.
The client inquiring said, “Your prices are high. I thought you are direct to farmers and that you are helping them. In Rustans, I buy tomatoes at P48 per kilo only [in] the comfort of an aircon facility.”
The consumer expounded, “Very well. No competition sila sa mga (They have no competition among) supermarkets as we know how our veggies look like when we buy [them]. We can even choose. The farmers can earn, but not too much. Alam mo (you know) supermarkets pay for their employees who are mostly college grads, they pay electricity for lighting and air conditioning, they rent in malls, they buy freezers, and all the equipment needed to operate a high-end supermarket. They renovated the malls for their stores and they do marketing. These are all expensive stuff.”
The message continues, “Eh yung mga farmers, ano overhead nila? And almost [the] same ang prices nila with supermarkets? (What about the farmers, what’s their overhead? And their prices are almost the same as the supermarkets) Wow.”
The client went on, “Mas malaki pa tubo ng farmers [kaysa] sa mga supermarket owners” (Farmers have bigger profit than the supermarket owners.) Leaving a question after, “Why will we support them hence?”
Session Groceries answered this inquiry saying that they can set up a virtual meeting with their partner farmers so the farmers can explain and answer the customer directly.
Partner farmers also have a say regarding this concern.
One of them said in Taglish, “The farmer’s profit should be greater than that of mall owners because the farmer works hard to produce products. We also pay taxes on the products we grow, we also have a farmworker, we work like a carabao just so we can produce a product. Sometimes we don’t even pay ourselves. Plus, the equipment we use in farming are very expensive, [coupled with] farm maintenance, [and the] money to buy medicine and fertilizers for the plants. You can’t just plant, then harvest them right away. In fact, [farming] is like taking care of a baby.”
Another farmer wrote, “…Bawat oras ng isang tunay na magsasaka ay [nakakabusog] sa [hapag kainan] ng sambayanan” (Every hour of a true farmer can make the people in town full.)
The said Facebook post received thousands of interactions from the netizens, earning both criticisms and approval regarding the issue.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan even commented on the post. He wrote: “If you are willing to pay the supermarket owners’ premium prices for the produce, why not our farmers who, unlike the supermarket owners, with their blood sweat and tears tended to, cared for, and did back-breaking work to produce the crops?”
Pangilinan continued, “Dahil ba mas matimbang ang mayayaman na may ari ng supermarket na pera ang gamit gamit at hawak sa pagpapalaki ng kanilang mga malalaking negosyo kaysa sa magsasaka na ang gamit lamang ay kanilang mga kamay sa pagtatanim at pagaani? Mas mahalaga ba ang pera ng mayayaman kaysa sa pagod, hirap, at [sakripisyo] ng mahirap na magsasaka?” (Is it because the rich who own supermarkets weigh more because of the money they use to grow their big businesses than the farmers who only use their hands to plant and harvest? Is the money of the rich ones more important than the effort, hard work, and sacrifice of the poor farmers?.)
Session Groceries mentioned that many partner farmers have been lowering the prices of their produce due to the help they got last year, which will make the products more affordable in the coming days.
The store added that for more questions related to this, people can leave a comment on their post so the partner farmers themselves can answer the queries via a panel discussion.