Jollibee Group Foundation’s Sustainable Farming and Eating InitiativeJune 30, 2019
- Gela VelascoWords
Our country is brimming with all kinds of natural resources. Our lands provide rice, fruit, vegetables, and crops that can provide for Filipino families. Agriculture is the primary source of income for two out of three underprivileged families who live in these areas. Despite the resources at hand, these families are unable to make a sustainable living from their produce. The Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF), the corporate social responsibility arm of the Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC), is changing this reality through its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP). The FEP facilitates JFC’s sourcing of ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, calamansi, and chili peppers from smallholder farms in Ilocos Sur, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, and Pangasinan. Pinoys enjoy these ingredients in Jollibee’s burgers, pancit palabok, and spaghetti, Greenwich’s pizza, and in Chowking’s chili sauce. FEP’s local partners- which include local government units and microfinance institutions interested in the program- choose the participants according to the crops they produce, land area, geographic location, and the farmers’ willingness, and commitment to the program.
JGF’s thrust is to foster food security; such a goal can be achieved by giving marginalized communities better access to food. The FEP is one means of securing food for all, while addressing the critical social issues at hand. JGF partnered with US-based NGO Catholic Relief Services for its agro-enterprise technology and government financing agency the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), and its network of microfinance institutions. These forged partnerships enable the FEP to provide farmers with agro-enterprise training and organizing, access to financing, and linkage to institutional markets.
The program not only sources Jollibee’s ingredients from these farmers, but also trains them to develop a farming business. An agro-enterprise approach is taught to the farmers so that their products are more profitable, and more market-competitive. One of the first beneficiaries of FEP was the Kalasag Farmers Producers Cooperative of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. They began supplying 400 metric tons of white onions to JFC in 2009. “As a result, their standard of living has improved, and they have maintained a 100% loan repayment record to their partner microfinance institution (MFI),” says Joanna T. la’O, Program Manager of the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program.
FEP plans to expand the program to more areas and to other crops. “We know that to help more farmers, we need to invite other companies to open their supply chains as well,” la’O continued. Other institutional markets are also being engaged for farmers to supply. In the long run, FEP hopes that the small farmers will sustain business relationships with JFC and the other companies. All parties will benefit from the locally-sourced, fresh, and high quality of produce provided by the farmers, and served to the customers of JFC’s restaurants.