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We, as a Filipino people, must strive to achieve inclusive growth which must reach the outskirts of our country. We are glad that many of our big Kapatids in the business sector utilize inclusive business models that benefit our MSME Kapatids, helping all of them scale up. Last year, I said that we needed initiatives beyond the norm to reach our goal and we started it.
There was an outcry from Bongabon farmers in Nueva Ecija to stop the massive importation of onions. Israel Reguyal, head of the Local Onion Growers for Economic and Trade Cooperation (LOGNET), approached President Duterte seeking help. I saw the perfect opportunity for Kapatids to step in. Together with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, we brought together local onion growers with major supermarket chains and large-scale buyers. It was a great chance to help the farmers scale up through market linkage.
Several big brother companies like SM Group, Century Foods Group and Shakey’s, Robinson’s Group, Puregold, Rustans/Shopwise, Jollibee, McDonalds, CDO Foodsphere and Max’s Group answered the call. Today, I would like to share their efforts;
The SM Group, led by Tessie Sy-Coson and Joey Mendoza of SM Supermarkets, was one of the first large chains to buy directly. They are locally sourcing onions from the farmers of Nueva Ecija. Approximately 20 metric tons was made available in SM Supermarket, SaveMore Market and SM Hypermarket since December 2016.
Robinsons Supermarket of Robina Gokongwei-Pe led the “Love Local Produce” campaign. They ordered a total of 6,250 kg (250 sacks) of red onions that were sold in their 31 stores in Metro Manila.
Rustans Supercenters Inc., headed by Irwin Lee, also purchased their first batch of onions from Bongabon last year. A total of 4,500 arrived to fill the shelves of several company chains; 2,703 in Shopwise, 1,125 in Rustans, and 696 in Wellcome. Rustan was connected to us through the help of Nonoy Colayco.
Shakey’s received their first trial order of white onions last Jan. 3. After determining that both quality and price are acceptable, they have scheduled regular deliveries beginning this week. Target volumes will be between 700 to 800 kgs per week, depending on the supply. Hopefully, this can open the door for other locally grown agricultural crops to top our pizzas soon.
The Century Pacific Group of Chris Po is also studying the possibility of contract farming in order to establish long-term relationship withthe farmers. They are in talks with LOGNET to promote a more sustainable supply chain.
CDO Foodsphere of Corazon Ong met with LOGNET-AC last Dec. 16 to discuss their initial order of five tons a month, hoping that volumes will increase if quality and price are acceptable. They received their first order of white and red onions just a week after the meeting.
This is what Sec. Piñol calls as the “great chance in Philippine Agriculture” which will create a shift toward market-oriented farming—buyers and farmers working hand in hand to ensure that crops supply the market needs. It’s a win-win situation for both the Nueva Ecija farmers and large-scale buyers. The initiative has been launched and it’s coming into fruition. With time and experience, we hope to elevate other agricultural crops as well.
In the future, we look forward to linking other crop industries to big brothers who will then help them reach bigger market. We are directly coordinating with Secretary Manny Pinol and our partnership for more MSME development in agriculture.
Our future is bright if we strengthen the agriculture sector. Farmers need our help. And we are more than willing to extend our development programs for them. Together with our big brothers, let us achieve prosperity for farmers, fishermen, micro and small entrepreneurs and all Filipinos!
The Philippines is hosting the ASEAN this year with President Duterte as the chair in the government side, and I will be leading the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, the business counterpart, as chairman. It will be a special celebration as we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. This Sunday, Jan. 15, the President will launch our chairmanship in Davao. As for the business sector, the Department of Trade and Industry will launch ASEAN on Jan. 24. We look forward to the success of ASEAN 2017 which will bring inclusive growth not only in our country, but also in all of the countries in the region.