Farmer Entrepreneurship Program
Farmer Entrepreneurship Program
Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) is home to the largest quick-service food chains in the country. Its daily requirement for raw ingredients such as rice and vegetables, puts the company in a unique position to assist small farmers achieve a more sustainable livelihood. The Jollibee Group Foundation as the corporate social responsibility arm (CSR) of JFC converted this opportunity into a program it could develop to improve the incomes of small farmers.
The Farmer Entrepreneurship Program was launched in 2008 to improve small farmers’ income by linking them to the supply chain of institutional markets like JFC. The project is in partnership with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Philippines and National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC).
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Philippines promotes market-driven strategies that facilitate farmers’ active participation in modern markets, such as: supermarkets, fast foods, hotels and restaurants, and institutional caterers. With funding support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), CRS carried out the project, “Small Farms and Marketing Project” that assisted 3,000 farmers in five project sites in Mindanao. From this knowledge base, CRS developed a practical, eight-step approach called the clustering strategy and documented this in a guidebook, The Clustering Approach to Agro-enterprise Development for Small Farmers: The CRS-Philippines Experience.
The National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) is a government corporation mandated to provide for the credit needs of the farmers through its accredited microfinance institutions (MFIs), such as rural banks, cooperatives, and non-government organizations (NGOs). In partnering with CRS and Jollibee Foundation, NLDC saw the opportunity to strengthen its credit and capacity building programs through a project that raises the competitiveness and productivity of small farmers.
These three organizations came together in 2008 to set up the Bridging Farmers to the JFC Supply Chain Project, now called Farmer Entrepreneurship Program, that aims to link small farmers to the supply chain of institutional buyers like JFC. For the pilot year of the project (2008 – 2009), six (6) municipalities in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Bukidnon, and Zamboanga Sibugay participated in the project. The project provided training to increase the farmers’ productivity and gain skills in enterprise management as well as improve their access to credit through the help of partner finance institutions.
The results of the pilot project were varied. Farmers were able to deliver onions from Nueva Ecija and Bukidnon as well as bell pepper from Nueva Vizcaya. But they were unable to sustain a year round delivery due to lack of production and post-harvest facilities. Other products such as rice, calamansi and carrots faced significant constraints prompting the group to review the inclusion of either the products or the sites in the project.
For 2014 the program assisted 27 farmer groups from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to deliver their products to various institutional buyers such as fast food restaurants, supermarkets, and food processors. In addition, 15 institutional markets are currently sourcing directly from smallholder farmers for their vegetable material requirements through FEP. These companies practice inclusive business by offering the farmers opportunities to be directly part of the supply chain. FEP has partnered with more than 40 local institutions to develop over 900 farmers from 15 provinces nationwide. The program was implemented in Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Antique, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Agusan del Sur. The Department of Agriculture has also provided training and agricultural materials.
The FEP experience has demonstrated that by combining the elements of market, finance and agro-enterprise clustering, farmers can meet the volume, quality and timeliness requirements of institutional buyers.