New Year fruit basket with a twist: Buy local, help Filipino farmers
BUYING round fruits ahead of the New Year’s day celebrations? Consider locally grown fruits to give the tradition a deeper meaning—that is, supporting local farmers who toil the earth with love to support their families.
Consumers normally buy imported Chinese “ponkan,” Washington apples, and grapes for the holiday feast and for decorating the dinner table come New Year’s Eve, but the Department of Agriculture (DA) says there are local counterparts for that.
How about Nueva Vizcaya oranges (or Perante oranges, also from Nueva Vizcaya) instead of Chinese ponkan?
Need grapes? There are locally grown grapes from Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and other provinces.
Buyers may also consider other fruits such as suha (pomelo), guava, atis (custard apple), duhat (black plum), rambutan, santol, melon, calamansi (Philippine lemon), dalandan (Philippine orange), lanzones, chico, avocado, chesa, aratiles (local cherry), mangosteen, pakwan (watermelon), bignay (currant), mabolo, papaya, coconut (buko), granada (pomegranate), lipote/igot/bahag (round black plum), calumpit (small and round black plum), sampinit (Philippine strawberry) and yambo (rose apple).
Nontraditional homemakers may also serve round varieties of langka (jackfruit), pineapple, mango, macopa, durian, balimbing (star fruit), and dragonfruit. Root crops could work, too, for those who push the envelope on the fruit basket tradition.
“We use yakon in place of apple, although it’s not a fruit but a root crop,” says Ramon Uy, a young farmer with an organic farming business based in Negros Occidental with the brand name “Fresh Start.” Uy also grows organic calamansi, rambutan, lanzones, tomato, and watermelon. He also has partnerships with organic farms that offer guava, dalandan, bignay and duhat, although some are not in season.
Aside from improving incomes of farmers focused on fruit production, buying local fruits also helps those who grow fruits to supplement their income from other crops or other forms of farming such as livestock and fish farming.
This helps sustain the country’s program to boost overall food production. High value crops are also getting more attention from farmers, who have also resorted to growing organic vegetables and fruits.
The Philippines aims to achieve food sufficiency and to promote local produce so that farmers are encouraged to plant more crops.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, who makes a yearly call to consumers to buy local, always says, “Buying imported fruits is okay. But isn’t it better to celebrate and also support local farmers at the same time?”
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