SMC officially opens rent-free community market to help support local farmers, small businesses

SMC officially opens rent-free community market to help support local farmers, small businesses

MANILA — San Miguel Corporation (SMC) officially opened its Circolo community weekend market on unused company property in Cabuyao, Laguna, to help farmers and small businesses — with free stall rentals for six months — reach more consumers, boost their income, and broaden access to fresh and affordable products.
SMC president Ramon S. Ang said that the first two weekend runs of the market were a big success for farmers and merchants, who have reported selling out their goods quickly on market days, as COVID-19 restrictions have eased throughout Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, including Laguna.

One of the most-visited stalls, aside from the food outlets, is of social enterprise Rural Rising PH–SMC’s partner at its Better World Diliman community center in Quezon City.

The center serves as a ready market for excess produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices, which are then offered to consumers and resellers at lower prices.
“Through Rural Rising Philippines, our Better World Diliman has become a lifeline for many distressed farmers all over Luzon, whose goods cannot all be sold or transported to their traditional markets. Since July 2020, they have sold over 800,000 kilos of produce and benefited 4,500 farmers. That number can only go higher, now that they have an outlet south of Metro Manila, through Circolo market,” Ang added.

Since the formal opening last October 23, some 26 stalls are now operating, rent-free for six months, at the 4,000-square meter Circolo market, named as such because it is located at the rotunda connecting Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao, Laguna in the popular Nuvali development.

“Nineteen months into the pandemic, and after several strict lockdowns, we’re glad that the farmers and small businesses that have joined this weekend market project, are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With more people vaccinated, and with a significant drop in cases the past couple of weeks, there is noticeable confidence in the economy,” said Ang.

“We still have to be cautious and observe all health protocols — but with the holiday season fast approaching, we’re very optimistic of a recovery, especially for the agriculture sector and small entrepreneurs,” he added.

According to Ang, Circolo market attracts both local residents of nearby villages, as well as weekend visitors from Metro Manila and other neighboring cities.

The area is centrally located and within close proximity not just of several major residential developments in both Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao, but also popular commercial centers as well as industrial facilities.

Currently, the community market operates from 6:30 am and closes at 5:30 pm on weekends, but already, some sellers are requesting for operating hours to be extended.

“So far, the first two weekends have been very successful, with both locals and people from out-of-town dropping by to visit and support local sellers. With the market gaining popularity in the coming months, and hopefully with the pandemic situation continuing to improve, there is already clamor from sellers for us to do night operations–so sellers can cater to more customers, particularly during the Christmas season,” Ang said.

“If adding more hours will benefit more merchants and consumers, we are certainly open to it. We will and consult with the local government of Cabuyao and take into consideration the prevailing situation, ensuring that we always comply with government-mandated health protocols,” he added.

Ang said that the wide, open, and well-ventilated outdoor space can accommodate over 200 people, but management currently limits the number of people within the premises to only up to 80 at any given time–with minimum health protocols such as wearing of masks and social distancing, strictly enforced.

The majority of the merchants are from all over Laguna and include those supported by the City Cooperative and Livelihood Development Office (CCLDO) of Cabuyao.

Vendors sell coffee, fruit and vegetables, plants, bikes, assorted food, and non-food products.

Circolo market is the second community market opened by SMC to disadvantaged sectors hit hard by the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Recently, the company opened the San Miguel Market in Sariaya, Quezon, to broaden earning opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk living at its sustainable housing community in the town, San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes, and other relocatees from disaster-prone coastal areas.

The San Miguel Market is set to be expanded to 10,000 square meters to later serve as a wholesale market or “bagsakan” center for produce coming from Sariaya and other parts of Quezon province. (ai/mtvn)

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