With the Philippines’ farming population, growing older, the agriculture industry needs the younger generation to sustain food production. However, it seems only a few in the youth sector are interested in farming.
To encourage more young people to get involved in farming, Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) has expanded its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) by reaching out to the youth sector and training them on agro-entrepreneurship, demonstrating that farming can be a sustainable and viable source of livelihood. FEP is the flagship program of JGF that hones smallholder farmers’ business and leadership skills so they can collectively supply high-quality vegetables that meet the standards of corporate buyers and ensure equitable profit.
Honing the next generation of farmers
JGF has already supported over 480 underprivileged youth who graduated from technical-vocational courses in agriculture. To beef up trainees’ skills in treating farming as a business, JGF launched the Agro-enterprise Technical-Vocational Course, co-developed with Don Bosco Training Center in Mati, Davao Oriental and accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 2021. This course provides students with new concepts of agriculture and business to allow them to gain National Certificate II and successfully become agro-entrepreneurs.
Aside from Don Bosco, the trainings are also provided through the Sacred Heart Savings Cooperative community-based training center in Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur, and recently, the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative Integrated Organic Farm School in Cebu.
June Batao-ey, 24, belongs to the pioneer batch of this course in Sacred Heart Savings Cooperative, Ilocos Sur. June said he had an early awakening to agriculture. Coming from a family of smallholder farmers, he used to help with farming chores as an elementary student. He shared that his own grandfather is also an FEP farmer who passed on his farming knowledge to his parents and community.
“Dinadala po kami ng magulang ko sa bukid pagkatapos ng klase. Doon po ako namulat sa kanilang trabaho, ‘yong pagtatanim ng palay, prutas, at mga gulay (My parents used to bring us to the farm after school. That’s where I’ve learned about their job—planting rice, fruits, and vegetables),” he said.
Later, June pursued Agricultural Engineering where he learned about farm machinery, irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, cold storage, and processing, among others.
Before he took the board exams, he applied for JGF’s agro-entrepreneurship scholarship. He said that while he already had technical knowledge in farming, the course allowed him to gain more appreciation for the business aspect of agriculture, including cost analysis and marketing of farm products. “Napakaimportante pala na nililista mo lahat ng ginagamit mong gastos sa pagtatanim. Simula planning pa lang, hanggang sa pagbebenta ng mga ani (It’s very important to record all costs you use in farming, from the planning stage to selling your produce).”
June hopes that more people can be exposed to the promising opportunities in agriculture. “Marami sa ating kabataan ay anak ng magsasaka at mangingisda. Sana ay ipagpatuloy natin ang nasimulan ng ating mga magulang upang magkaroon ng agricultural progress at makamit ang food security ng ating bansa (Many of our youth are children of farmers and fisherfolk. I hope we can continue what our parents started so that our country can attain agricultural progress and food security),” he said.
JGF is currently expanding the course to community centers with program partners, and other technical-vocational schools of Don Bosco so that more scholars can benefit from it.
Aldrin Dizon, 29, works as an account manager of the Kalasag Multipurpose Cooperative in Nueva Ecija—the first farmer group to join JGF’s FEP. Kalasag has been a supplier of onions to Jollibee Group since 2009 and is led by its chairman Arnold Dizon, who is Aldrin’s father.
Aldrin shared that the trainings he received through FEP have not only boosted his technical skills in farming but have also given him more confidence to interact with different stakeholders, such as during negotiations.
“Hindi po biro ang makipag-negotiate sa aming mga partners. Sa pakikipag-negotiate ay kailangan laging isinasaisip kung ano ang makakabuti para sa aming partner at aming kooperatiba, kung both sides ay magkakaroon ng balanced o fair na negotiation. Fair decisions make fair negotiations (Negotiating with our partner is a serious task. When negotiating, we must always keep in mind the mutual benefit for our partner and our cooperative. Fair decisions make fair negotiations),” he said.
“Many farmers in our Farmer Entrepreneurship Program belong to the youth sector. We have seen how these young farmers can help support not only their own families, but also the agriculture practice as they inject more dynamism into the sector with their innovative ideas and progressive mindsets,” said Gisela Tiongson, JGF Executive Director.
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.