KALASAG Farmers work with Jollibee Group Foundation to become First Cooperative to Receive GAP Certificate
Reaping what they sow, the members of KALASAG Farmers Producers Cooperative in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija was recently granted a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certificate by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) for white onions, confirming that the cooperative ensures food quality and safety.
The GAP standards enable farmers to address different aspects of on-farm production and post-production processes that result in safe and quality agricultural products. It covers food safety, consistent quality produce, worker’s health, safety and welfare, and environmental management.
BPI inspected KALASAG farms last February for GAP qualification. A month after, BPI and DA qualified 41 KALASAG farmers for the GAP certification. “We told them that GAP certification is just simple, they just need to be more careful when it comes to the safety of their products. The farmers were very optimistic about it even though it seemed impossible for them at first. In fact, they are the first cooperative in the country to receive GAP certificates,” said DA Region III GAP Inspector Angel Tulabut.
“We are happy to be regarded as ‘Certified GAP Farmers’. Our market will surely expand and we can now enter the international market because we already met the standards,” said KALASAG member Ferdinand Gomez of the certification.
Of this, KALASAG General Manager Wencelito Gomez explained, “We hope this serves as an inspiration to other farmer groups. The GAP accreditation will help improve their farming practices and their lives. We hope that the day will come when all farmers will have improved lives. And we thank Jollibee Group Foundation for helping us reach our dreams.”
Bridging the GAP
KALASAG is one of the first partners of Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) in its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP), which aims to help smallholder farmers achieve a more sustainable livelihood and increase their income by linking them to the supply chain of institutional markets like Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC). KALASAG has been regularly supplying white onions to JFC since 2009. In 2016, KALASAG delivered close to 500 metric tons of white onions to the food service company.
KALASAG learned about GAP through JGF and decided to make GAP accreditation one of their main projects. “JGF helped us through trainings on leadership and agro-enterprise, and giving us an option for a sure market. We are also able to use all the knowledge that we learned from FEP in our transactions with other institutional buyers and get more opportunities that help us and our community“, said KALASAG Chairman Arnold Dizon.
JGF has been implementing FEP since 2008 and has trained more than 1,800 farmers. Twelve farmer groups from Luzon and Visayas regularly supply to JFC, and have delivered more than 2,000 metric tons of vegetables to the company. FEP has proven that by combining the elements of market, finance, and agro-enterprise clustering, farmers could meet the volume, quality and timeliness requirements of institutional buyers.