To boost incomes, provide more livelihood opportunities: SMC builds first pandemic-resilient marketplace for Sariaya farmers, fisherfolk

To boost incomes, provide more livelihood opportunities: SMC builds first pandemic-resilient marketplace for Sariaya farmers, fisherfolk

MANILA — San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is set to open a sustainable community marketplace in Sariaya, Quezon that will be jointly managed with residents of its P352-million relocation community dubbed as the San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes.

The San Miguel Market, the first in Sariaya’s Barangay Castanas, is 95% complete and is seen to boost the livelihoods of both farmers and fisherfolk in the area. It will be part of SMC’s planned sustainable integrated food complex that will generate jobs for residents and boost the economy of Quezon province.

The market is also built with the pandemic in mind – conforming to the most stringent food safety and hygiene standards.

“At San Miguel, we believe inclusiveness is key to bringing sustainable growth and development to our provinces. Through this project, the San Miguel Market, farmers and fishermen from Sariaya, Quezon can go into business and earn more from selling their fresh catch and fresh produce, their home-made products, and even our food products, directly to consumers,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

“With this, combined with the 3.5-hectare Sariaya fishermen’s dock we built earlier, Sariaya can be known as a source of the freshest seafood from the province. They can attract many customers aside from the locals. With this, local fishermen can reduce their costs, sell their products faster, and get better prices,” Ang explained.

SMC earlier built the community, dubbed San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes, to relocate families living in high-risk coastal areas. It features disaster-resilient and environment-friendly homes and is equipped with a multi-purpose area, covered court, livelihood center, daycare center and e-library.

The dock, meanwhile, accommodates and secures some 100 boats. SMC also built on the property the Sariaya Fishermen’s Hall, which serves as a rest area and storage for about 70 boat engines and other fishing implements.

Ang said that its integrated food complex project will be a game-changer for Sariaya and Quezon province as it will include major food industry investments, including a ready-to-eat food manufacturing facility, a grains terminal, feed mill, poultry dressing plant, a brewery, and international port facilities.

“With the support of the local government of Sariaya and its communities, we are starting to construct the vital pieces of the integrated food complex. This will be a game-changer in terms of investments and the employment and livelihood opportunities it will bring to the town of Sariaya, and the rest of Quezon province,” Ang said.

Still, the welfare of local fisherfolk and relocatees remain SMC’s priority, says Ang.

“We are committed to making the lives of our relocatee-families better for the long-term. That is why we did not just stop at just providing them their own homes–we made sure they have good homes in a sustainable community. We are also providing locals all the support they need to boost their livelihood, hence the fishermen’s dock and now, the San Miguel market. Apart from these, we continue to upskill them through training programs. We want to provide them all the opportunities to earn not just stable, but good income,” Ang said.

Ang said that long-term, the market will be developed into a wholesale marketplace or “bagsakan center” for fresh farm produce and seafood, to help farmers and fishermen from Quezon bring their products to Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

In the meantime, the market will start by opening commercial spaces to be put up by residents of its Sariaya housing community.

“In recent months, we have been very aggressive in our skills-training programs in cooperation with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA). These training programs allowed our relocatees to explore other possible income streams aside from farming and fishing,” Ang explained.

Last year, 50 residents from San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes graduated from livelihood and skills program funded by SMC in cooperation with TESDA. The initial courses offered were fish and meat processing and urban agriculture.

In cooperation with the local government of Sariaya, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and TESDA, SMC is conducting a sewing and dressmaking seminar for an initial batch of 25 relocatees from San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes.

With the help of TESDA instructors, participants learn to make t-shirts, shorts, dresses, facemasks, and other kinds of clothing. The graduates of the dressmaking seminar will be organized into a Samahan ng Mananahi ng SMC- Christian Gayeta Homes so they can avail of DOLE livelihood assistance which includes 25 high speed sewing machines and other materials for garments production.

To enhance the skills of graduates in meat and fish processing who are now into catering services, they were also provided training on table skirting, napkin folding, table setting and food service.

Apart from building homes, livelihood facilities and providing training, SMC also recently donated 36 fishing boats to locals.

SMC is known for initiatives supporting the agriculture sector. In the early months of the pandemic, SMC’s partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) led to the establishment of “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” farmers stores at Petron gas stations in Metro Manila.

This provided consumers easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables and benefited farmers who were unable to bring their produce to Metro Manila markets due to the enhanced community quarantine.

Meanwhile, through its partnership with social enterprise Rural Rising Philippines, SMC put up Better World Diliman, a community center serving as a ready-market for excess produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices, and sold to consumers and resellers for low prices. (AI/MTVN)

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