An effort of the ARDCI Microfinance, Inc. to keep afloat their members who are farmers and fisherfolks by selling their fresh and nutritious produce, as well as other essential commodities, to consumers in faraway barangays is about to expand its reach beyond the capital town.
From the initial 20 barangays in Virac covered during the quarantine period, ARDCI MFI management seeking the permission of the provincial government to bring its Mobile Palengke to the other 10 towns as well.
Launched and operated in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office, the ARDCI Mobile Market was initiated to reach out to its farmer-members and other community producers while giving barangay residents a chance to buy fresh produce.
The microfinance company sought to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic among its members, help promote social distancing, augment the income of its members during the crisis, deliver basic necessities to the communities, and thereby lessen trips of people to the market as well as their exposure to possible threats.
Using a truck to pick up its members’ produce at designated points upon payment in cash, the mobile market then delivered the reasonably-priced agri-fishery products along with basic commodities, groceries, hygiene and sanitation products, to target villages in Virac, particularly those farthest from the town center.
Capitalized with an initial P50,000, the mobile palengke operated from Tuesday to Saturday from 6 A.M. to 11 A.M., using only a crew of three – the driver, cashier and merchandiser – with the truck staying in one barangay for about an hour.
Aside from selling the products of its own farmer-members to residents of various barangays unable to go to the public market in the poblacion, ARDCI also encouraged producers in the locality to sell their produce to the mobile market for resale in other areas.
During its visits to various villages, the Mobile Palengke religiously reminded the buying public of their responsibility to wear face masks, observe social distancing and resort to frequent handwashing to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the community.
The customers were also urged to exhibit their love for the environment by bringing their own eco-bags to the Mobile Palengke, thus reducing solid waste.
Barangays covered by the program so far include Marilima, Batag, Magnesia del Sur, Magnesia del Norte, Casoocan, Hawan Grande, Hawan Ilaya, F. Tacorda Village, Balite, Palta Big, Palta Salvacion, Palta Small, Cabihian, Calabnigan, Hicming, Buyo, Antipolo del Norte, Antipolo del Sur, Igang and Talisoy. p
Meanwhile, during the celebration of Health Workers’ Day on May 7, ARDCI MFI handed out food packs to frontline health workers in Virac and San Andres as a sign of gratitude for their dedication and resiliency in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.