Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (XU – AdC) recently celebrated the graduation of 97 field facilitators who took their first online Agro-Entrepreneurship for Inclusive Value Chains course. Field facilitators coach smallholder farmers on agro-entrepreneurship to shift farmers’ mindsets and practice from being individual producers to entrepreneurs. By taking the course online, JGF was able to equip graduates with knowledge on the agro-enterprise clustering approach (AECA) despite pandemic restrictions.
The graduates were leaders from 47 organizations that implement programs assisting smallholder farmers who participated in the course. They represent various sectors, including national and local government offices, non-government organizations, financing institutions, farmer cooperatives and associations, social enterprises, and the academe. By the end of the course, the graduates have gained leadership and technical know-how based on JGF’s experience in implementing its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP).
Together in Growth
By promoting AECA, JGF and its partners have enabled hundreds of farmers to collectively market their products and supply big markets like the Jollibee Group.
Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar highlighted the critical value of AECA not only at the community level but also in the transformation of the country’s agriculture sector. During the ceremony, Sec. Dar said, “JGF’s Agro-Enterprise Clustering Approach is in line with the goal and objectives of the Department, which is the consolidation through clustering in a specific location to attain the economies of scale that will give lower production cost and higher income to our farmers. This will also leave a significant impression to all that farmers are not poor and farming is a business.”
Ms. Aquilina Onesa, one of the graduates from Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc., also expressed her appreciation for the course. “The Training content is so balanced—presenting both the successes and the challenges, what works and does not. The AECA steps are defined in a way that will benefit the farmers. My key takeaway is that AECA works! We will continue in our implementation with two farmer groups and proceed to establish new ones.”
Moving Forward in Agro-Entrepreneurship
JGF President Grace Tan Caktiong joined the celebration to congratulate and encourage the graduates as they continue in their mission of helping farmers imbue new life into their farming enterprises. “Thirteen years ago, when we started this journey of the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program, we realized almost immediately that it is not an easy path but we knew that it is the right one. While our road may be paved with obstacles, it is also filled with opportunities that you will discover especially as you implement your plans. I firmly believe that you are now empowered and will succeed with the same passion, commitment plus perseverance to effect positive change in your chosen communities,” Ms. Tan Caktiong concluded.
JGF and XU-AdC will offer the online course again starting February 2022. Efforts are also underway to develop an intermediate course to help agro-enterprise facilitators further delve into the practice of AECA and help farmer groups sustain their access to the market.