JFC wins AGROW Award for Inclusive Business, shares best practices at the ASEAN Agriculture Summit

For its programs in enabling smallholder farmers earn more income by supplying to the company, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) received the AGROW Award for Inclusive Business during the 2018 ASEAN Agriculture Summit last October 1.

AGROW Awards was launched this year to recognize game-changers in advancing agriculture in the region. It was conferred by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) Philippines in partnership with Go Negosyo and supported by the Department of Agriculture.

One of JFC’s initiatives geared towards inclusive business is Jollibee Group Foundation's Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP). The program helps smallholder farmers become agro-entrepreneurs who can supply directly to corporate buyers such as JFC.

Since 2008, FEP has trained more than 2,000 farmers, 600 of which are directly delivering to JFC commissaries or stores through 15 farmer cooperatives. They supply high-value crops such as onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, lemon and chili, comprising about 20% of JFC’s total vegetable requirements. These have a gross value of more than a million dollars a year.

Key to assisting smallholder farmers in becoming agri-entrepreneurs is the support of agri-enterprise facilitators based in institutions such as local government units, non-government organizations or microfinance institutions. These partners help the program become more efficient and sustainable by organizing, training and coaching farmer clusters towards collective marketing.

One of JGF's FEP partners, Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative from Cebu, was awarded as a finalist for the Inspiring Cooperative AGROW Award. Their member farmers directly supply Chowking restaurants in Metro Cebu.

During the summit attended by more than 2,000 delegates, JGF Executive Director Gisela Tiongson presented FEP as a leading example of how smallholder farmers are empowered, and in the process champion rural development and the agriculture industry.

"From our 10 years of experience, we have learned that entering into direct sourcing arrangement with smallholder farmers entails not only resources, but more importantly, a long-term vision that will see beyond the current state of inefficiency smallholders find themselves in,” Tiongson said.

“Strengthening the farmers’ innate capacity as entrepreneurs to supply, negotiate and compete with other regular suppliers of the company requires patience, a good understanding of the problems of smallholder agriculture, and the ability to partner with other like-minded groups," she added.

Together with various partners, JGF is expanding FEP to reach more farmers, especially the youth.