August 23, 2012
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Jollibee Foundation, Inc., the social responsibility arm of one of the country’s largest food conglomerates, and Sagip Saka, an advocacy program of the Office of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Congressional Oversight Committee for Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) signed on Tuesday afternoon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide P11.8 million worth of assistance to agricultural communities in eight provinces around the Philippines.
Also included in the partnership and memorandum signing were the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC).
The funds will be used to provide post-harvest facilities such as rain shelters, transportation vehicles, and tractors; agricultural equipment such as water pumps for irrigation; inputs; and other forms of assistance that are aimed to increase the productivity and income of onion, red pepper, tomato, and lettuce farmers. Recipient communities come from Vigan, Caoayan, and Sinait in Ilocos Sur; Alaminos, Alcala, Bani, and Aguilar in Pangasinan; Tarlac City, Tarlac; Alabat, Quezon Province; San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; Santa Josefa, Agusan del Sur; Mati, Davao Oriental; and Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
Over 400 farmers and their families in 13 sites in the eight provinces will benefit from this program.
According to Pangilinan, “Sagip Saka [is] our advocacy that aims to achieve sustainable modern agricultureand food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential, improving farmers’ and fishers’ quality of life, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships… Based on our experience, Sagip Saka has been a good example of the power of public-private partnerships for rural development, because it brings back the dignity and the primacy of the Filipino farmer. It also strives to uplift the quality of life of our farmers and fisherfolk.”
The lawmaker, who chairs the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, also explained the seven “cornerstones” or “pillars” of Sagip Saka. These are: (1) providing access to investments and credit; (2) opening access to market; (3) rolling out infrastructure; (4) strengthening research and development; (5) organizing farmer communities and cooperatives; (6) ensuring the quality and consistency of supply; and (7) mitigating the risks brought about by climate change.
“Local agriculture has been asleep for three decades—which is why we are lagging behind our neighbors such as Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand… Whiel these countries have been busy modernizing their agricultural sector and ensuring productivity in the countryside, our leaders, for the most part, have made empty promises and have failed to deliver on their commitments.”
“Sa kahuli-hulihan, kulelat pa rin ang Pilipinas pagdating sa agrikultura. Hindi na puwede ang ganito,” Pangilinan said in Filipino.
The senator likewise pointed out that Sagip Saka was inspired by the success of Jollibee Foundation, Inc.’s intervention with an onion farmers’ cooperative in Nueva Ecija.
“The success of JFI’s intervention on the Kalasag Farmer’s cooperative gave us a good template for this type of public-private partnership. In the end, both the farmers’ group and Jollibee benefited from this because Jollibee was able to get a steady and reliable source of onions, while the farmers were able to substantially increase their incomes by going direct to the market.”
“We hope to replicate the success of the Jollibee-Kalasag partnership across all Sagip Saka communities and make an impact in the lives of our farmers. This is the only way to ensure the sustainability of our agricultural programs and likewise ensure food security. We thank Jollibee and the rest of our private sector partners for leading the way and showing that it can be done,” Pangilinan concluded.