Young farmer barters eggplants for school supplies

LAOAG CITY (PNA) – An enterprising young farmer in Barangay Sulbec, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte has been bartering his freshly picked eggplants online in exchange for school supplies to be distributed to students.

Crisner Lagazo and a maruista exchange items at the Eat Good Vibes Cafe in Laoag City on Monday (Aug. 17, 2020). Lagazo barters his eggplants in exchange for school supplies to be distributed to Ilokano learners in the province. (Photo courtesy of Eat Good Vibes Café/ PNA/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Crisner Lagazo thought of dealing his produce, which is abundant the rainy season, through the Maru Barter Ilocos, an online community where more than 10,000 members offer their products or services in exchange for a myriad of things, except for cash.

Lagazo said his harvest may just be so little, but in this time of crisis, he wanted to be of help to the children of Ilococ Norte, who are close to his heart.

"It's a small thing but I hope this will inspire our children who may be distanced but hopefully they remain connected under our new normal," said Lagazo in an interview on Monday.

Lagazo used to be a teacher before deciding to work full time at the Crisner Integrated Farm and Learning Site, which is now accredited by the Agriculture Training Institute.

His calling as a teacher, however, never stopped as interested students and plant hobbyists visit him on his farm where he shows them actual organic and integrated farming practices.

Since Sunday evening, a photo of Lagazo’s plantation along with a tray of eggplants has generated many hits from the online barter community being administered by an aspiring young woman entrepreneur and owner of Eat Good Vibes Cafe in the city.

For the convenience of the bartering community, Christine Joy Salvador offered her shop in downtown Laoag as pick up and drop off points for every successful deal.

For every kilo of Lagazo's eggplant, the deal for every “maruista”, the local term for a member of Maru Ilocos Barter, is to barter it with any school supplies such as a coupon bond, writing pad, pencil or ballpen. The deal is open and the maruista decides for himself or herself how many school supplies would he/she be willing to barter for a kilo of eggplant.

For instance, Rina Peralta of Laoag City made a deal for one kilo of eggplant in exchange for pencils and ball pens.

She said barter reminds her of the good old days when her family would trade their personal produce in exchange for something they need.

In these trying times, Peralta said she won’t mind giving more than the standard retail price of one kilo of eggplant which she can easily buy in the market because barter is a means to exchange goods or personal services on a voluntary basis.

"The price of the item is never a consideration when you want to help children in need,” she said in an interview.

Since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, bartering has become a byword in the Ilokano online community with a growing number of maruistas wanting to barter their personal belongings in exchange for food and other personal necessities, among others.