Jollibee Group Chairman and Founder, Tony Tan Caktiong, decided to pursue a bold and valuable idea back in 2008. He thought: what if the company were to buy directly from farmers so they can have a regular and stable market to sell to? This comes from a recognition that even if agriculture is one of the country’s key sectors, farmers remain to be among the country’s most vulnerable, and their lack of opportunities and resources prevents them from earning a higher income.
Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF), the company’s social development arm, then took on the challenge of translating the idea into the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP), which would eventually link small-scale farmers to their supply chain.
Today, the white onions, green bell peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetables that the company uses in Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Mang Inasal come directly from small-scale farmers across the Philippines. JGF gives us a peek into how over 500 farmers from 17 farmer groups have Grown with Joy and earned their place in big markets in the video essay that the Foundation recently released.
At the heart of FEP is a stack of interventions that help farmers sharpen their technical skills and business acumen. JGF starts by partnering with organizations across the country to help farmers form clusters, so they can collectively meet the volume and quality requirements of big buyers and market their produce.
In 2018, JGF developed a training program to train Agro-entrepreneurship Facilitators who guide farmer groups towards becoming farmer entrepreneurs. This year, JGF brought this training program online in partnership with Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan entitled “Agro-Entrepreneurship for Inclusive Value Chains: An Introduction.”
As a group, FEP farmers can scale their operations, successfully maintain their status as Jollibee Group suppliers and find other markets. Growing and scaling means that farmer groups need to comply with standards such as the Philippine Good Agricultural Practices (PhilGAP) promoted by the Department of Agriculture.
A requirement of the Jollibee Group among its agriculture-based suppliers, PhilGAP guides farmers in addressing different aspects of on-farm production and post-production processes that result in safe and quality agricultural products.
Since 2009, FEP farmers have consolidated and delivered more than 7,000 metric tons or 700 truckloads of vegetables to the Jollibee Group, earning more than P300 million in total sales. Furthermore, 94% of FEP farmer groups are already GAP-certified as the others continue to work towards this milestone.
Sharing the joy
“It brings us real joy that We have helped hundreds of farmers embark on a journey to rediscover and even totally embrace farming. FEP has emboldened them to dream bigger and has given them the tools necessary to turn them into reality,’’ says Gisela Tiongson, JGF Executive Director.
Ligaya Miras, a farmer leader of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Cebu City reflects on her journey. “Being an FEP farmer means I am not just a farmer, but also an entrepreneur.’’ She adds, “Farming is not just a source of livelihood. For me, it is a mission. If there are no farmers, who will feed people? I am proud to be a farmer.’’
From the white onions used in the Jollibee Yumburger, to the spring onions sprinkled on the Chowking Chao Fan, and the green bell peppers we enjoy in the Greenwich Hawaiian Overload Pizza—FEP farmers truly help spread the joy of eating among countless Filipinos every day.
To learn more about the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program and to watch the video essay inspired by the growth of FEP farmers, visit the Jollibee Group Foundation official Facebook Page at fb.com/JollibeeGroupFoundationInc.