Daily struggles of a small-scale vegetable vendor

By JEMIMAH CRESENCIA
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Virginia Dinulong or Manang Virgie as she is fondly called is a 63-year-old vegetable vendor. Her day starts early as she needs to go to the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post in Benguet from her home at the UP Village in Irisan in this City to get “reject” vegetables. She sets out as early as 7:00 am or 9:00 am if she’s running late.

TRADERS REJECT. A boon to small or ‘talipapa’ vendors who glean whatever vegetables are rejected by big traders, undersized or a bit wilted they clean and wash it and sell it cheaper. Photo courtesy of Jay-Em Serapion

Reject vegetables are those that do not pass the quality control of the traders. These are those that are deformed, damaged, or those with parts chopped off or bitten off by rodents. These used to be free but are now sold at almost half the price of those that are not damaged.

Manang Virgie used to work as a construction worker and only sells reject vegetables for added income. But when she was no longer accepted as a construction workers, she went fulltime selling vegetables.

When they arrive at the trading post, Manang Virgie and her fellow vegetable vendors go straight to where the “rejects” are piled.

She will then proceed to clean the rejected vegetables; washing them and removing the damaged parts. The cleaned vegetables will be put into new sacks and the vegetable vendors will now have to wait for buyers.

When asked how much they get per day for selling the rejected vegetables, Manang Betty Frias said, “it depends”.

Manang Betty, a friend and fellow vegetable vendor explained that they earn as low as P300 and as high as P1,000 a day depending on the running price of vegetables.

“We now sell reject vegetables per kilo unlike before when we sold it per sack,” she added.

She said that if a kilo of undamaged carrots cost P20 per kilo, they will sell the rejects at P10 per kilo.

Manang Virgie said that there are still many buyers, a lot of them coming from Manila, who prefer the rejects because of the cheaper price. She said they can even sell the rejects at a higher price in Manila.

She said that they also slice and pack the rejects so they could sell them at a higher price.

She also said that most of the vegetable vendors wait until the afternoon for their vegetables to be sold out. She said that they are lucky because they already have loyal customers who call them to order and pick up their vegetables.

Manang Virgie said they also face difficult challenges. She said that they do not have selling stalls. “Some of us pay those who have stalls to allow us to sell or share space, we also pay garbage fee,” seh said.

The increase in people going to the trading post to sell rejected vegetables is also an issue, it is causing problems like overcrowding and more competition.

“We are also forced to sell our vegetables at a lower price because nobody else will buy them,” she said.

At the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, you can see the life of the vegetable vendors who are still making money from these vegetable rejects. Manang Virgie and Manang Betty said that there’s still money to be made and that they are trying to make the most out of their income.# nordis.net

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