Farmers Are Front and Center at This Weekend Market in Negros

The mostly come from the highlands of Valencia, which is dubbed "Little Baguio."

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PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

(SPOT.ph) Weekend markets, especially those happening in business districts like Salcedo and Bonifacio Global City, are often flocked by city-dwellers because it's the perfect opportunity to sample and purchase fresh produce from farmers and unique goods from local sellers. Valencia in Negros Oriental has a similar set-up, but this time, it's geared towards cutting the middle man and having local farmers sell their harvests directly to their community for more profit. This is the Paunay Farmers Market, which happens every Sunday, from 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Valencia Public Plaza in Negros Oriental.

Also read:
The SPOT.ph Guide to Dumaguete City
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How the Valencia Paunay Farmers Market Started

"The initial concept was to provide 'yong farmers ng avenue to sell their products kasi walang masyadong pagbentahan, especially those at the hinterlands. So, they created this organization, it's called the Valencia Paunay Farmers Association. It started out with the local farmers of Valencia na nagbebenta ng local produce nila dito every Sunday," Valencia tourism officer Albert Tubal explained in an interview with SPOT.ph. The efforts started in 2013.

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Members of the Valencia Paunay Farmers Association only need to pay P20 a day for their stall. The local government also provides trucks for transport. This allows them to easily sell their fresh produce from the highlands of Valencia, which is also dubbed "Little Baguio" because of its relatively chilly weather. Farmers display the greenest vegetables, plump fruits, and colorful flowers on tables along the brick roads of the plaza or mats on the ground.

"It didn't become like this overnight. It started with the farmers and gained popularity eventually. People from Dumaguete and other towns come here on Sundays. Tapos na-develop 'yong idea that when people would come to buy the farm products, mas mabuti kung may magbebenta ng makakain, makukutkot. Eventually, marami na ang nagka-interes na mag-put up ng food stalls. Kaya ito na 'to ngayon, padami nang padami. Every week, from five to 10 would apply for food stalls,"

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At present, stalls are close to 100, where some of the products include local coffee, sandwiches, ice cream, flavored milk, tacos and biryani, and more coffee. Since Dumaguete City and its surrounding municipalities have become a retirement haven for ex-pats, there are also sellers of different nationalities—bringing with them the flavor of their own country. Non-members of the Farmers Association pay P550 for their stalls per day.

Aside from drawing in more tourists to Valencia, the Paunay Farmers Market provides a livelihood to farmers—especially during the pandemic, business opportunities for home cooks, and employment for other locals.

AirAsia is the latest airline to service passengers from Metro Manila to Dumaguete City. Flights are scheduled four times a week: every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday—all at 7 a.m. The return flights to Manila are on the same days at 9:05 a.m.

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