First Balfour in partnership with Rural Rising Philippines (RuRi) has successfully organized a private Box-All-You-Can (BAYC) event last week, 15 July 2022, at the First Balfour Head Office in Sucat, Paranaque City. Over a hundred employees joined BAYC taking with them a total of 306 boxes worth PhP 183,600 in an effort to extend help and support to our Pinoy farmers.
An exciting shopping game created by RuRi, BAYC allowed employees to fill their boxes to the brim with all the fruits and vegetables they like for a full 10 minutes. The box, whose size is 17-inches wide and 10-inches tall, is big enough to hold up to 15 kilos of produce or even more. The produce for First Balfour’s BAYC event included common vegetables in Pinoy kitchens including tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, potatoes as well as the more expensive ones like butternut squash, zucchini, leeks, lemon, and celery. These were harvested from towns in Benguet and Mountain Province where farmers most often have difficulties in logistics and distribution.
Founders Ace and Andie Estrada of Baguio City shared that RuRi was born during the coronavirus pandemic. “In May 2020, we went to the Baguio City Market and nakita namin ang mga farmers doon ipinamimigay ang gulay dahil hindi sila nakakabenta. Pumunta kami sa outskirts ng Baguio, punong-puno ng gulay na itinatapon sa bangin. We found out there was a problem.” He shared they wrote about it on Facebook and as it went viral, more and more people wanted to help. Now a full-fledged non-profit grassroots collective, RuRi has already moved millions of vegetables by doing rescue buys in areas where there is an over-production of vegetables. Currently, it has 30,000 members and 100,000 followers.
Aside from patronizing farm-to-table events like RuRi’s BAYC, Estrada also shares another way to help our farmers, “If you learn and buy local, you are already helping them.” He mentions he deliberately avoids buying and eating imported fruits like apples and grapes.
“While we are successful in bringing the stories and making people know that there’s a big problem, we’re not really making a huge impact in the long-term for our farmers,” shares Estrada. When asked about the future of RuRi, he explained RuRi 2.0 where they plan to create a foundation to help the farmers in the full-value chain—seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, harvesting, distribution—something that they envision to make a significant impact to the lives of our Filipino farmers.