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Gawad PiliPinoy awardee recognized for championing local farmers

04:03 PM August 28, 2019

Blessed with arable lands with weather conducive for farming, the highland province of Benguet has long been well-known as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines”. Yet, recent oversupply in vegetable production has forced farmers to needlessly dispose of their harvest, putting to waste not only potential food supply but their back-breaking toil and labor in the fields.

“Ang farming ay sugal,” says Kuya Ronnie, a Benguet farmer. “Kadalasan kasi ang tanim is 45 to 60 days, tapos dadalhin ‘yan sa trading post. Aasa kami na mataas ang demand at mababa ang supply, pero wala kang mapapala.” Mang Eugene, one of the elder farmers, shared that it was a dark moment for them when they had to sell 1 kilo of harvest for Php1 just so their families would have food on their table.

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Mang Eugene, one of the longest-serving farmers in Benguet, is one of the beneficiaries of Session Groceries. According to Diga, the average age of a farmer is 58 years old, usually earning an annual income of P27,000.

It was truly a painful situation, enough to jolt Iloisa Romaraog-Diga, who decided to use the digital platform of the Session Groceries online store as an alternative means to link farmers to consumers and bring fresh vegetables from the farm to the plate at a price more beneficial to the farmers.

This advocacy, on top of the online convenience Session Groceries has been able to provide its customers, enabled Iloisa and her to team to “be more, and do more” for their community. It is this synergy between her bread and butter and her passion project which Mang Inasal recognized through the 2019 Gawad PiliPinoy.

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Gawad PiliPinoy honors modern-day heroes who represent “Galing ng Pinoy”, using their gifts and talents to uplift the plight of our less fortunate countrymen.

Roots of Session Groceries

Iloisa, along with a few friends, created the Session Groceries in 2016. The e-commerce site has catered to the households in Baguio City, allowing them to conveniently buy supermarket items online to be delivered at their doorstep. 

For using her technological and entrepreneurial flair to help lighten the load of Filipino farmers, Session Groceries founder, Iloisa Romaraog-Diga is hailed as Mang Inasal’s Gawad PiliPinoy 2019 awardee.

Having worked as a planning analyst in a tech company for 15 years, Iloisa has been well-versed in logistics and operations. According to her, working as an analyst allowed her to earn well financially, but offered little in terms of personal fulfillment. 

“Dati kasi ang ginagawa lang namin is purely business, tapos nag-evolve siya dahil dun sa mga farmers na kailangan talaga ng tulong,” said Iloisa. With the influx of support Session Groceries was receiving from the locals of Baguio City, Iloisa knew that she was on the right track. 

What started as a mere online store, Session Groceries is now a platform where the public can buy fresh produce directly from the farmers. This way, farmers need not sell their harvest at a lower rate, allowing them to dictate their own prices.

“Basta part sila ng Session Groceries, i-eensure lang ni farmer na makakapagtanim siya. Ibibigay niya samin kung ano ang available niyang products, tapos nakalagay yan sa mobile app, then irerepack sa fulfillment center namin, tsaka dadalhin sa Maynila.”

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On winning Gawad PiliPinoy

As the recipient of this year’s Gawad PiliPinoy Award, Iloisa says she looks forward to working with more investors to further help farmers, incorporating modern equipment and methods. Their team is presently working to be as purposeful as they can so that in the next five years, 70% of the projected 18 million population in Metro Manila will think of Session Groceries as their #1 source of vegetable supply.

Watch here the full story of Iloisa Romaraog-Diga selflessness and passion to ease the plight of Filipino farmers For more details, like Mang Inasal Philippines’ official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MangInasalPhilippines/.

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