Great Change Starts With Onions

Photo Caption: (L-R) Israel Reguyal (Chairman of Lognet), Grace Manalang (CDO Purchasing Manager), Shiela Villabroza (Office of Usec.Puyat), Joy Dela Rosa (Secretary of Lognet), Raymond Canoza (Office of Usec.Puyat), Leonila Baes (DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service).

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 C. Reguyal, head of the Local Onion Growers for Economic and Trade Cooperation (LOGNET), approached the President seeking help. I saw the perfect opportunity for Kapatids to step in. Together with the Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, we brought together our 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 GroupCentury 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 available in the shelves of 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 can be bought 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. Rustans was connected to us through the help of Nonoy Colayco.

Shakey’s received their first trial order of white onions last January 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 longer term relationship with farmers. They are currently in conversing with LOGNET in hopes to promote a more sustainable supply chain.

CDO Foodsphere of Corazon Ong met with LOGNET-AC on 16th of December to discuss their initial order of 5 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.

Robina Gokongwei-Pe, President and COO of Robinsons Supermarket and the display of locally grown onions from Nueva Ecija in one of their supermarkets.

Robina Gokongwei-Pe, President and COO of Robinsons Supermarket and the display of locally grown onions from Nueva Ecija in one of their supermarkets.

This is what Sec. Piñol calls as the “great chance in Philippine Agriculture” that shifts us towards 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 these 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 which 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!

***

Philippines is hosting the ASEAN this year with President Rodrigo 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, January 15, the government led by President will be launching our chairmanship in Davao. As for the business sector, the Department of Trade and Industry will launch ASEAN on January 24. We look forward to the success of ASEAN 2017 which will bring inclusive growth not only in our country but in all of the countries in the region.



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