SMC formally opens San Miguel Market in Sariaya, Quezon, a regional food hub for pandemic-hit farmers and fisherfolk

SMC formally opens San Miguel Market in Sariaya, Quezon, a regional food hub for pandemic-hit farmers and fisherfolk

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) formally inaugurated the San Miguel Market, one of the key components of its relocation model that provides at-risk and displaced fisherfolk families in Sariaya, Quezon disaster-resilient homes, a safe community complete with amenities and facilities to support their livelihood and secure their future.

The San Miguel Market, a public market built by SMC for fisherfolk beneficiary families of its San Miguel-Christian Gayeta homes, is envisioned to be part of a larger food supply hub in the province, where both fishermen and farmers can sell their produce to bulk buyers from all over Quezon province, neighboring provinces, as well as from Metro Manila.

“Sariaya, Quezon is an important growth area for San Miguel. In particular, through our planned agro-industrial zone here, food production and agribusiness will be among our major activities. Helping to capacitate and enable local fishermen and farmers, and strengthening local agriculture, is a priority for us,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

“With the San Miguel Market, farmers and fisherfolk who reside at our sustainable housing community, those in neighboring areas and barangays, now have their very own marketplace nearby, where they can sell their goods without spending much to transport these to other markets. This means more income in their pockets for their families and, for customers, more affordable food choices,” he said.

Ang added that the long-term plan for the San Miguel Market is to expand it to 10,000 square meters, and have it serve as a wholesale market or “bagsakan” center for produce coming from Sariaya and other parts of Quezon province. 

It is complemented by an earlier completed Fishermen’s Dock, also built by SMC, which Sariaya fishermen now use as a base of operations–serving as a place where they store their boats, engines, and fishing implements and supplies. A Fishermen’s Hall in the dock also serves as their rest and storage area.  

In recent months, SMC president Ramon S. Ang said that the company has taken steps to address farmers’ loss of income and ensuring stable food supply by ramping up purchases of corn and cassava used in many of the company’s products while putting up traditional and non-traditional markets where more food can be accessed by consumers at affordable prices.

“Our farmers and fisherfolk truly need all the support they can get during this pandemic. Many instances, a lot of them have no recourse but to throw away their freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables, or sell these at a loss due to lack of buyers, limited access to markets, and possibly, lower demand, for various factors,” said Ang. 

Currently, vendors at the San Miguel Market consist mainly of relocatees who sell fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, seafoods and meats. The market also has a health and wellness stall, cellphone repair shop, pharmacy, bakery, shoe store, and the San Miguel Food & Beverage Hub.

The blessing and formal opening of the market was attended by Bishop of Lucena Mel Rey Uy; Rev. Fr. Everett Calvendra, Mayor Marcelo Gayeta, Vice Mayor Alexander Tolentino, members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sariaya and SMC Special Projects Manager Atty Mikee Rosales, and other SMC representatives.

The San Miguel Market is managed by the Malasakit Management, Inc., composed of relocatees of SMC’s San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes and others who moved to safer and newly-built homes elsewhere in Sariaya.  

“By giving our relocatees the responsibility to manage the San Miguel Market, we are empowering them to set the direction for its further growth. We have prepared them well through our business and entrepreneurship seminars tailored for this purpose, and will continue to guide them as we move to fulfill our bigger goal to build an agro-industrial complex,”Ang said.

SMC’s planned agro-industrial complex in Sariaya includes a brewery, grains terminal, feedmill, a ready-to-eat food manufacturing plant, high-tech poultry facility, a fuel tank farm, and port facilities.

“These projects are all interconnected. With SMC food production plants to be set up in Sariaya in the coming years, we can source food ingredients from local farmers and provide employment to many residents. San Miguel Market can then serve as a major food distribution outlet for agriculture and San Miguel products in South Luzon, and even as far as the Bicol region,”Ang said.

To further boost its stature as a major food supply hub, SMC has donated 18 fishing boats to be used by MMI for its members’ livelihood, so they can better ensure a stable supply of fresh fish in the market. 

“As we expect demand to increase in the coming months as the market gains popularity, we are equipping the San Miguel Market with its own fleet of boats so they can ensure steady fish supply for sale to consumers,” he added. The boat donation is the most recent such effort by SMC. A few months ago, the company donated 36 boats, to be co-owned by some 69 Sariaya fishermen.

“Many of the fishermen here have been fishing for a long time, but have never had their own boats. A lot of them used to just rely on others who owned boats, but if they couldn’t find a spot in their boats, then they wouldn’t earn anything. With more fishermen having their own boats now, less families will go hungry and the local fishing industry can really begin to grow and thrive,”Ang said.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, SMC has launched several efforts to help support local farmers and fisherfolk. Early last year, through a partnership with the Department of Agriculture, the company put up “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” farmers’ produce stalls in Petron stations to bring farmers’ fresh and excess produce directly to consumers. 

In cooperation with social enterprise Rural Rising Philippines, SMC also established the Better World Diliman that serves as a ready-market for excess produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices, and offered to consumers and resellers at lower prices. Since July 2020, it has sold over 800,000 kilos of fruits and vegetables and benefited 4,500 farmers all over Luzon. 

Through the DA’s network, SMC food unit San Miguel Foods also bought a record volume of 524 million kilograms from farmers in Central Luzon, Pangasinan and Camarines Sur last year. Year to date, SMC has recorded corn purchases of 272 million kilograms. 

SMC also bought dried cassava granules equivalent to 173 million kilograms year-to-date, up by 104% compared to same period last year through its Cassava Assembler Program. 

SMC last year also bought excess carabaos’ milk from carabao growers, at the same time vowing to help them with research and development on a new packaging format that would extend their milk’s shelf life.

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