Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) farmer leader and Sili Growers Association president Malou Maulion shares the story of how her group became a regular supplier of hot pepper to Chowking
Farming can be a profitable livelihood, even for farmers who till a small parcel of land. Arming them with more knowledge can translate to better decisions and higher confidence.
Jollibee Group Foundation knows this too well—its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) helps smallholder farmers become agro-entrepreneurs who can directly supply corporate buyers, including companies such as Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC). This is done through partnerships with different institutions, clustering, and mentoring of farmers.
Take the case of Malou Maulion, a mom of three and president of Sili Growers Association (SGA) in Alabat, Quezon. Maulion used to teach college classes until she focused on raising her children as her husband was working abroad.
To earn additional income, she put up different businesses, including a vegetable farm. Growing up in a farming family, she and her seven other siblings used to help out on the farm but it was only in her that the passion for farming was cultivated.
When Maulion was diagnosed with hypertension, farming became her stress reliever. Eating fresh vegetables helped improve her condition. “It felt good to plant vegetables,” she said.
Pursuing her passion led her to SGA, which is under the Alabat Island Farmers Producers Cooperative. The cooperative has already been delivering calamansi to JFC through FEP. Maulion saw the potential of her group to also supply hot peppers to corporate buyers and with training from FEP, she learned how to improve and grow their business. Under her leadership, SGA has become a regular supplier of hot pepper to Chowking, one of the brands under JFC.
“Before joining FEP, we would sell our produce individually. We were competing for buyers, and our only competitive advantage was our ability to do sales talk. We also did not know how to properly cost our produce so we would just accept whatever price the buyer set at that time,” she said.
After we became part of the program, we learned the importance of understanding the markets’ needs before we plant to make sure that we will make a profit. We also learned how to consolidate and do group marketing so we can get better prices for our goods,” she said.
She also realized that being able to supply to corporate buyers like JFC is the best strategy for their group to flourish. “Having a sure market is important for us because even during seasons when the price of hot pepper in the local market is low, we are still able to get a good price.”
The benefits go beyond earnings. She mused, “We used to feel small and think that we are ‘just’ farmers. Now, we are more confident because we are able to interact directly with buyers who also support and believe in us. Through this experience, I saw the importance of farmers to the community.”
To date, SGA has 84 farmers. By teaching them how to have an entrepreneurial mindset, Maulion believes farmers can uplift their lives. “Without farmers, the community will go hungry. Through FEP we learned to value the work that we do and become better agro-entrepreneurs. And I am grateful for that.”
FEP partner farmer groups deliver around 20 percent of JFC’s annual vegetable requirements such as onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, calamansi, and hot peppers. Because FEP helps farmers transform into entrepreneurs, they are able to supply not only to JFC but also to other buyers such as supermarkets and hotels. This has helped improve the lives of thousands of farmers nationwide.
Maulion proudly shared that her role as president of SGA enabled her to marry her two passions: teaching and farming. “That is one of my greatest accomplishments because even if I am a woman and most of the farmers are men, I was still able to do my duties as their leader,” she said.
Despite being busy with the business, Maulion finds time for her family. “I organize my tasks and make sure I’m not neglecting anything.” With her success, her husband may be able to go home next year from overseas. They plan to build a farm where her children can put their expertise to use: her eldest is taking up Mechanical Engineering, the second child is studying to become a chemical engineer, and the youngest is most likely to take Agriculture.
This story was originally published on The Philippine Star.
For its programs in enabling smallholder farmers earn more income by supplying to the company, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) received the AGROW Award for Inclusive Business during the 2018 ASEAN Agriculture Summit last October 1.
AGROW Awards was launched this year to recognize game-changers in advancing agriculture in the region. It was conferred by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) Philippines in partnership with Go Negosyo and supported by the Department of Agriculture.
JFC Chief Executive Officer and President Ernesto Tanmantiong receives the award from ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Chairman Jose Ma. Concepcion III and Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
One of JFC’s initiatives geared towards inclusive business is Jollibee Group Foundation’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP). The program helps smallholder farmers become agro-entrepreneurs who can supply directly to corporate buyers such as JFC.
Since 2008, FEP has trained more than 2,000 farmers, 600 of which are directly delivering to JFC commissaries or stores through 15 farmer cooperatives. They supply high-value crops such as onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, lemon and chili, comprising about 20% of JFC’s total vegetable requirements. These have a gross value of more than a million dollars a year.
Key to assisting smallholder farmers in becoming agri-entrepreneurs is the support of agri-enterprise facilitators based in institutions such as local government units, non-government organizations or microfinance institutions. These partners help the program become more efficient and sustainable by organizing, training and coaching farmer clusters towards collective marketing.
One of JGF’s FEP partners, Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative from Cebu, was awarded as a finalist for the Inspiring Cooperative AGROW Award. Their member farmers directly supply Chowking restaurants in Metro Cebu.
JFC CEO and President Ernesto Tanmantiong (standing, 5th from right) with JGF and some of its partners who also attended the Summit. Beside him is Ms. Ellen Limocon, Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative General Manager, who received the award for the Cooperative.
During the summit attended by more than 2,000 delegates, JGF Executive Director Gisela Tiongson presented FEP as a leading example of how smallholder farmers are empowered, and in the process champion rural development and the agriculture industry.
JGF Executive Director Gisela Tiongson joins a panel of ASEAN businesses practicing the 3Ms (mentorship, market, and money) model in helping smallholder farmers.
“From our 10 years of experience, we have learned that entering into direct sourcing arrangement with smallholder farmers entails not only resources, but more importantly, a long-term vision that will see beyond the current state of inefficiency smallholders find themselves in,” Tiongson said.
“Strengthening the farmers’ innate capacity as entrepreneurs to supply, negotiate and compete with other regular suppliers of the company requires patience, a good understanding of the problems of smallholder agriculture, and the ability to partner with other like-minded groups,” she added.
Together with various partners, JGF is expanding FEP to reach more farmers, especially the youth.
As part of its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP), JGF recently strengthened its partnership with Cebu-based Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LMPC) to establish an AE training center in 2019 for facilitators in Visayas and Mindanao. AE Facilitators will teach and coach farmer groups on collective marketing so they can directly supply to institutional buyers such as Jollibee Foods Corp. Signing the Memorandum of Agreement are JGF President Grace Tan Caktiong, and LMPC Chairman Richard Obaner. Joining them (standing from left) are JGF Trustee Marissa Camacho; JGF Vice President Belen Rillo; LMPC Farmer Cluster Leader Ligaya Miras; and LMPC Head of Business Development Justine Lynn Limocon.
Thirty-two trainers from LGUs and other organizations recently completed the first Farmer Entrepreneurship Program Agro-enterprise Training (AgenT) for Change, which resulted in the formation of nine new farmer groups that will supply various vegetables to institutional buyers such as Jollibee Foods Corporation. Joining the graduates are (seated from L-R): Ma. Gisela Tiongson, JGF Executive Director; Belen Rillo, JGF Vice President; Mayor Erick Wagan, San Antonio, Quezon; Mayor Cesar Isaac III, Guinayangan, Quezon; Grace Tan Caktiong, JGF President; Mayor Joselito Guyguyon, Kiangan, Ifugao; Dr. Lloyd Bautista, STI Educational Services Group VP for Academic Services; Maria Isabel Hipolito, STI Educational Services Group Assistant VP for Academic Research; and Connie Andrada, STI Foundation Executive Director.
JGF recently welcomed new FEP partners who will help small farmers supply to institutional buyers such as Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), ensuring farmers meet standards and requirements thereby increasing their income. JGF Executive Director, Gisela Tiongson (seated, 4th from left) and Senior Program Manager Joey La’O (standing, 2nd from left) led the welcoming of new partners who were represented by (Seated from L-R) Vice Mayor Amie Hernan Oldez of Nagcarlan, Laguna; Mayor Jasmin Angelli Bautista of Magallanes, Cavite; Marlyn Sanogal of Negros Occidental; (Standing from L-R) Monette Martin of Antipolo City; Mamalyn Dion of Antipolo City; Councilor Honorato Nad of Oton, Iloilo; Mayor Jason Gonzales of Lambunao, Iloilo; Ernest Barreiro of Good Food Community, Inc.; Mayor Samuel Ocampo of San Luis, Batangas; Caroline Obalde of Lingap Para sa Kalusugan ng Sambayanan, Inc.; Ignacio Dumantay of Albacopa Federation of Cooperatives; and Rosemarie Abaya and Flor Ortiz of Cabanatuan City.