Jollibee Group funds SEARCA-led project that aims to boost PH’s onion output

Published April 24, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) have forged a joint research deal that targets to increase onion production in the Philippines as well as improve the local supply systems.

A statement showed that SEARCA and JGF, the corporate social responsibility arm of Jollibee Foods Corp., have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will pave the way for a research project specifically to improve the country’s yield for onion, with a specific focus on yellow onion.

The MOU was signed by SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio and JGF Executive Director Ma. Gisela Tiongson.

The project, which will be funded by JGF and implemented by SEARCA, is called “Project SAYA: Strengthening Agricultural Yield of Allium cepa L. (Onion) in the Philippines”.

The project will be done through SEARCA’s Emerging Innovation for Growth Department, which is led by Dr. Rico C. Ancog, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Tiongson stressed that “farmers need partners who can provide them with access to information and technology to help them improve their productivity, increase the value of their produce and, in the process, build their agro-enterprises.”

“I believe SEARCA’s experience and expertise in education, training, and research will provide an important dimension in deepening our understanding of the complex challenges facing our farmers,” she said.

Gregorio pointed out that onion is classified as one of the country’s high-value crops.

However, despite the 7.49 percent average growth in onion production from 2015 to 2019, the local supply meets only up to 70 percent of the country’s total requirements.

The large demand for onion is coming from large corporations and food establishments. To fulfill this demand, the country relies on importation.

Gregorio said investigating farm-level factors affecting the local production will provide empirical basis to formulate interventions to enhance productivity.

 Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that Central Luzon has the lion’s share of the total onion production at 62.5 percent. Ilocos Region and MIMAROPA are far behind at 17.48 percent and 15.78 percent, respectively.

In view of this, Ilocos Sur and Occidental Mindoro were selected as the Project SAYA sites.

In Ilocos Sur, the project team will work with the Tagudin Agroentrepreneurs Association and the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), while SEARCA will collaborate with the Lourdes Multipurpose Cooperative and Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT) to implement the project in Occidental Mindoro.

Ancog said Project SAYA intends to determine the present productivity and efficiency levels of local onion production.

He explained that “the technical efficiency of farmers reflects their ability to produce an optimum level of output using a given set of inputs and available technology. Measuring the efficiency of local onion producers may reveal information that is vital to improving the productivity of onion farms.”

To determine gaps and factors affecting onion production in the study sites, Ancog said one project component will collect farm-level data in terms of environmental conditions, farm practices, and innovations or technologies used.

Project SAYA is also expected to provide recommendations at the farm level and farmer-groups level on the potential interventions and innovations to intensify onion production.

“A set of recommendations will be developed based on the findings of the analyses to improve efficiency across the supply chain, reduce postharvest losses, and increase yield,” Ancog said.