SM group boosts livelihood of local farmers with farm to store program

WalterMart’s Palengke Fresh program supports local farmers by making their produce widely available and more accessible to consumers.

PASAY CITY, Philippines, April 5, 2024 – Agriculture is one of the major sectors in the country with over 10 million individuals in the industry. SM recognizes that as a group, supporting the sector leads to improved livelihoods, food security and a stronger economy.

Through food retail affiliate and community shopping mall chain WalterMart, its Palengke Fresh program provides Filipino farmers with solid market access that enables them to bring healthy farm-fresh produce to the customers efficiently.

WalterMart goes above and beyond hosting products from farmers for just a limited period. Rather than bringing them in through concessionaires, they integrate them across 38 stores by providing a venue for them to sell daily.

“Making a difference in people’s lives has been an advocacy of the group borne from the simple dream of SM founder Henry Sy, Sr. to uplift the livelihood of local farming communities,” said SM Investments President and Chief Executive Officer Frederic C. DyBuncio. “By harnessing our resources, particularly our retail properties, we aim to empower local farmers, strengthen rural economies and contribute to food security and poverty alleviation in the country.”

The Palengke Fresh program along with SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabahuyan [KSK] program are concrete examples of how the SM group is working closely with the agriculture sector to help elevate farming communities in the Philippines.

Quality and affordable produce await customers through WalterMart’s Palengke Fresh market.

“Our partnership with local producers through the Palengke Fresh program bridges the gap between farm and table and cultivates a sustainable agricultural culture between farmers and customers with each direct sale. For us to make an impact on the livelihood of our farmers, we make it to a point that they are involved in our supply chain process,” said Ms. Jennilyn Uy, President of WalterMart.

Mr. Joseph Galolo, a farmer from Sitio Kada, Mankayan in Benguet is among the partners of WalterMart’s Palengke Fresh program.

“Nabigyan kami ng pagkakataon na angkatin yung gulay namin,” Mr. Galolo said. “Hindi na problemahin kung san mo dadalhin yung gulay mo. Alagaan mo na lang ‘yung quality ng gulay—’yung kagandahan ng gulay para pagdating sa konsumer maganda ang kalidad ng produktong makikita nila.”

(We were given an opportunity to transport our products. Now, we don’t have to think about where to market our produce and instead, all we have to do is to tend to our products by ensuring their quality and freshness when they reach the consumers.)

Nueva Ecija farmer Mr. Crisanto Santos shares how much this initiative helps farmers like him since it enables their products to fetch a more favorable price than usual.

“Sa lahat po ng sumusuporta ng WalterMart at ng Palengke Fresh, salamat po,” he added. Ang mga produkto po na ‘to, na gawa ng magsasaka ay malaking tulong po sa aming lahat para makaangat sa buhay.”

(To all those who support WalterMart and Palengke Fresh, thank you. These products produced by farmers help us to have a better livelihood.)

The Palengke Fresh program started a couple of years ago in February 2022 with a couple of stores in Central Luzon. It has now transformed into one of WalterMart’s flagship programs in reaching out to more farmers and serving the best available produce to its customers. Since its launch, the program has empowered several farmer cooperatives, selling over 2000 metric tons of produce, significantly bolstering their income and fostering sustainable livelihoods.

“The program helps our farmers sell their fresh produce,” added Ms. Uy. “As a community mall, we look at more ways to create a positive impact and be inclusive of our communities and the customers we serve.”