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10/07/2013: Embassy Looking at Jollibee Foundation as Model for Cross-Sector Engagement in Agriculture

10 July 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy is looking at a project being supported by the Jollibee Foundation as a partnership model to rally behind an initiative being spearheaded by the Department of Agrarian Reform to empower land reform beneficiaries in the Philippines.

In a statement, the Embassy said the Jollibee Group Foundation has been invited by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. to showcase its successful experience in helping small farmers improve their economic and social well-being during the visit to the Philippines this week of a delegation from the United States.

Agriculture Attaché Josyline Javelosa said Ambassador Cuisia wants the Jollibee Group Foundation to share its experience with the Kalasag Farmers Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Nueva Ecija when the American delegation meets with officials the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Agriculture in Manila on 12 July.

The delegation members were invited to visit the Philippines to allow them to see how they could support the Agrarian Reform Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) Project that was presented by Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes during his visit to Washington, D.C. in April.

During that visit, Secretary De Los Reyes told Embassy officials that agriculture is a priority focus area of the Aquino Administration in its efforts to promote inclusive growth since as much as 32 percent of the country’s total employment is in the agriculture sector.

Secretary De Los Reyes then enjoined the Embassy to support the ARCCESS program by seeking US-based partners who can help strengthen agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBO) in developing further economic opportunities through the "Adopt a Pinoy ARBO" program.

Dr. Javelosa said the Adopt a Pinoy ARBO program involves public-private partnerships that would allow land reform beneficiaries to capture and benefit from the skills, resources, technology, markets, operating systems and experiences of the private and public sector in the Philippines and abroad.

According to Executive Director Gisela Tiongson of the Jollibee Group Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Jollibee Foods Corporation, the Kalasag Farmers Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative—a collaborative project of the Jollibee Group Foundation with the National Livelihood Development Corporation and the Catholic Relief Service called "The Farmers Entrepreneurship Program"—is one of its most successful cross-sector partnership projects to date.

Ms. Tiongson said the project links small farmers in four provinces to Jollibee, the fastest growing restaurant chain in the Philippines with over 2,600 stores worldwide. She relates that the Kalasag project began as a cluster of about 30 farmers who registered as a cooperative to facilitate their business.

Using improved techniques and training, the cooperative was able to increase its production from 8.7 metric tons of fresh and peeled onions per hectare to 13.8 metric tons.

In 2009, the Kalasag cooperative became a regular supplier of Jollibee that further increased incomes for the farmers. In 2013, the cooperative delivered 300 metric tons of fresh and peeled onions to Jollibee.

Ms. Tiongson noted the role of various enterprise development partners in contributing to this success including the support of government, particularly the Department of Agriculture through farmer field schools, technology dissemination and infrastructure support. Small farmers have also been linked up with financing institutions.

Ms. Tiongson recently represented the Jollibee Group Foundation in a forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to showcase its experience in "serving the poor and building resiliency via cross sector engagement.”

“This model might inspire other companies and organizations to work with ARBOs and contribute to efforts towards achieving inclusive growth in the country,” Dr. Javelosa said. ###