BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – It was a sight that horrified officials here midway into an enhanced quarantine last April as people flocked to the Libertad Public Market, squeezing together in violation of orders to maintain social distancing.
It was as if a K-pop band had arrived.
To Ernie Pineda, a senior City Hall executive, people were awaiting a K, not the ones from Korea but the vegetable kind.
Pineda said that was the day when kalabasa or squash made its way back here along with other vegetables that disappeared for at least a week after Mayor Evelio Leonardia ordered the shutdown of borders in April.
For a week, he said, vegetables from across the province cannot be delivered to public markets here as the city braced itself against the spread of the COVID19 disease.
This led to an increase in prices of fruits and vegetables that doubled, according to Pineda’s conservative estimate, as demand rose in this city of more than half a million people.
He did not provide any figures.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported in 2017, however, that the province had the lowest per capita rice consumption among six provinces in Western Visayas region at 114 kilos per person every year.
The province also topped white potato consumption at more than a kilo per person.
By consumption of produce, squash topped in the province with 4.2 kilos per person, eggplant at 3.8; tomato at 3.5; and ampalaya, three kilos.
City physician Grace Tan, sought for reaction to the report, said it could not be confirmed, however, if the increase in buying is because of an increase in consumption or a result of small-scale resellers going into the food delivery business.
She added, however, that it is a good sign if people are eating more vegetables.