DoubleDragon Helps Farmers Become Entrepreneurs
The lack of access to appropriate agricultural technology and a steady market has long been a major challenge for smallholder farmers. This often results in farmers’ low income.
Ronaldo Castro, a farmer from San Jose City in Nueva Ecija, is all too familiar with the challenges that confront farmers. “We didn’t have a process when to plant and when to harvest, as long as we had some produce to sell. Farmers here used to just plant crops separately without cooperating with each other,” Castro said in Filipino.
Through the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) of Jollibee Group Foundation together with its partners, as well as the support of the local government of San Jose City, the Department of Agriculture and property developer DoubleDragon Properties Corp., farmers like Castro are now working together and earning more.
Initiated in 2008, FEP aims to help increase the income of smallholder farmers by linking them to institutional markets such as Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) and supermarkets. Since its launch, the program has assisted more than 900 farmers from across the country. Castro now serves as Chairman of the Onion and Vegetable Producers Cooperative (OVEPCO), one of the farmers’ groups that has been regularly supplying to JFC.
An important initiative under the program was the Farmer Leaders’ Training Series where fifty (50) farmers from different farmer groups underwent training on agro-enterprise clustering and leadership values to strengthen their skills in organizational management.
“We were trained in agro-enterprise management and how to make a proper supply plan to ensure that we could meet our delivery targets,” OVEPCO’s Vice Chair Raquel Ariem said.“Farmers learned how to do business the right way,” Castro added.
DoubleDragon Properties Corp. co-founder Mr. Edgar “Injap” Sia II said initiatives such as the FEP are important because it fosters economic activities in the countryside, which help other businesses in these areas to also thrive. DoubleDragon annually donates to Jollibee Group Foundation, where part of the donation is used to undertake initiatives under the FEP. “As someone who has experienced growing a business in the province, I know how valuable these kinds of training are to equip farmers with the right attitude and know-how to defy the odds that they face. I hope these farmers’ experiences will inspire other small holder farmers to become entrepreneurs and to pursue their dreams as well,” Sia said.
The Farmer Leaders’ Training together with other FEP learning interventions has tremendous impact on farming communities. Data shows that farmers could earn up to as much as five times more when they sell to institutional markets compared to local markets.
“We are very thankful that we were included in this program. We now learned how to plant crops that are of high quality standards, which we can sell to institutional markets. Our crops are of much better quality now, Castro happily said.