Sagip Saka, an advocacy program of the Office of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Congressional Oversight Committee for Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide P11.8 million worth of assistance to agricultural communities in eight provinces around the Philippines. Signatories to the MOU were Jollibee Foundation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) together with local government units and micro-finance institutions (MFIs) undertaking the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program. The program aims to improve small farmers’ income by linking them to the supply chain of institutional markets.
The funds, to be released directly to the local government units of each site, will be used to provide post-harvest facilities such as rain shelters, transportation vehicles, and tractors; agricultural equipment such as water pumps for irrigation; inputs; and other forms of assistance that are aimed to increase the productivity and income of onion, red pepper, tomato, and lettuce farmers. Recipient communities are existing beneficiaries of Farmer Entrepreneurship Program of Jollibee Foundation, CRS and NLDC from Vigan, Caoayan, and Sinait in Ilocos Sur; Alaminos, Alcala, Bani, and Aguilar in Pangasinan; Tarlac City, Tarlac; Alabat, Quezon Province; San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; Santa Josefa, Agusan del Sur; Mati, Davao Oriental; and Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
Over 400 farmers and their families in 13 sites in the eight provinces will benefit from this program on the first year of implementation.
According to Pangilinan, “Sagip Saka [is] our advocacy that aims to achieve sustainable modern agricultureand food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential, improving farmers’ and fishers’ quality of life, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships. Based on our experience, Sagip Saka has been a good example of the power of public-private partnerships for rural development, because it brings back the dignity and the primacy of the Filipino farmer. It also strives to uplift the quality of life of our farmers and fisher folk.”
The lawmaker, who chairs the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, also explained the seven “cornerstones” or “pillars” of Sagip Saka. These are: (1) providing access to investments and credit; (2) opening access to market; (3) rolling out infrastructure; (4) strengthening research and development; (5) organizing farmer communities and cooperatives; (6) ensuring the quality and consistency of supply; and (7) mitigating the risks brought about by climate change.
“Local agriculture has been asleep for three decades–which is why we are lagging behind our neighbours such as Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand… While these countries have been busy modernizing their agricultural sector and ensuring productivity in the countryside, our leaders, for the most part, have made empty promises and have failed to deliver on their commitments.”
“Sa kahuli-hulihan, kulelat pa rin ang Pilipinas pagdating sa agrikultura. Hindi na puwede ang ganito,” Pangilinan said in Filipino.
The senator likewise pointed out that Sagip Saka was inspired by the success of the Farmer Entrepreneurship program that Jollibee Foundation, CRS, NLDC and the local government unit of San Jose City has been implementing. Through this program, the Kalasag Farmers Producers Cooperative in Nueva Ecija has been delivering bulb onions directly to Jollibee Foods Corporation since 2008. “We, the Jollibee Foundation and CRS and NLDC have committed and worked very hard for the past three years to help our small farmers and from what we saw in the Kalasag Farmers’ success with the support of Mayor Belena and the initiatives of the farmers themselves, and other institutions such as Waltermart, we are very encouraged and inspired to sustain that commitment,” said Mrs. Grace Tan Caktiong, Jollibee Foundation President.
“The success of the intervention on the Kalasag Farmer’s cooperative gave us a good template for this type of public-private partnership. In the end, both the farmers’ group and Jollibee benefited from this because Jollibee was able to get a steady and reliable source of onions, while the farmers were able to substantially increase their incomes by going direct to the market, ” continued Pangilinan.
“We hope to replicate the success of the Jollibee-Kalasag partnership across all Sagip Saka communities and make an impact in the lives of our farmers. This is the only way to ensure the sustainability of our agricultural programs and likewise ensure food security. We thank Jollibee and the rest of our private sector partners for leading the way and showing that it can be done,” Pangilinan concluded.
Jollibee Foundation, together with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) began its series of training for the Farmer Entrepreneurship program last February 28 to March 1, 2012 at the ISO Complex of the Ateneo de Manila Univeristy.
The participants learned the concept of Agroenterprise Development, which they will implement in 8 provinces starting this year: Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Quezon, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, and Davao Oriental.
Photos above show delegates from Luzon and Mindanao actively participating in the 3-day training session.