Social enterprise provides farmers-in-need a platform to reach urban customers

Participants haul their boxes using a trolley.

Rising fertilizer costs, fuel price hikes, and rampant smuggling. Ace Estrada, co-founder of Rural Rising, believes that these are the current issues hounding Filipino farmers. To support the struggling agricultural sector, Rural Rising has made it its mission to tap into farming communities and help them provide a platform to sell their produce to customers from Metro Manila.

Rural Rising was established by couple Ace and Andrea Estrada after they heard about Cordillera farmers who could not sell their oversupply of tomatoes during the pandemic. Due to mobility restraints brought by COVID-19 restrictions, the farmers were not able to move their produce out of their community while traders were not able to reach them to purchase their produce.

The Estrada couple sent a truck to the affected communities to help the farmers transport their produce to customers. The couple thought it was a one-off opportunity to help the farmers, but they started doing it more frequently, which is the reason why they founded Rural Rising.

In an ongoing partnership with Ayala Malls, Rural Rising has been bringing fruits and vegetables to urban customers through a gamified shopping experience. Called Box All You Can, participants can pay P699 to collect all the fruits and vegetables they can fit inside a 14x14x8 box within 10 minutes. Participants may choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, pineapple, banana, squash, potato, carrots, corn, and others.

Participants haul their boxes using a trolley.

Rural Rising has held the Box All You Can event twice. Their first one was held from April 8 to 10 at the Alabang Town Center while the second was held at UP Town Center from May 20 to 22.

Ace said that unlike their participants from Alabang, who were mostly village residents buying produce for big families, participants in their UP Town Center event are joining the Box All You Can game to donate their collected produce.

The organizers have therefore provided participants an option to buy a box that will be donated to UP jeepney and tricycle drivers, UP Town Center guards and janitors, as well as residents who survived a deadly fire incident at Village A in Diliman, Quezon on May 2, 2022.

Participants may fill a 14”x14”x8” with all the fruits and vegetables they can collect in 10 minutes.

Thirty tons of produce were prepared for the three-day event. Ace said that Rural Rising partnered with around 100 farmers from various parts of the Philippines such as Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, Mountain Province, and Nueva Ecija. They are able to connect with farmers across the country through a Facebook group where people share posts about farmers in need of help.

Rural Rising is now a network of 30,000 members across the Philippines composed of farmers, private partners, and concerned citizens hoping to support the agricultural sector.

For inquiries, contact Rural Rising Philippines on their Facebook page.

Photos by Jerome Sagcal.

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