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The imposition of community quarantine in different parts of the country magnified pre-existing gaps in our food supply chain, from production to distribution. Farmers and fisherfolks were unable to transport and sell their products due to the lockdown, resulting in food and income loss at the time of a crisis.

In this paper, INCITEGov in partnership with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia (AsiaDHRRA), Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) and Young Public Servants (YPS) propose policies that will hopefully enhance the strategies and programs for food & nutrition security and agriculture recovery vis-a-vis the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The recommendations, done in consultation with several NGOs and leaders working in the agriculture sector, focus on the family farmers, fishers, and agro-foresters, who are the backbone of the country’s food supply.

Policy brief: bit.ly/3ikJZRh

Policy paper: bit.ly/34mbc10

INCITEGov is a community of advocates and democratic leaders who firmly believe in the democratic process and the rule of law as the bedrock of our society. It develops a policy agenda that links democratic politics, good governance, and development outcomes (P-G-D framework) in crucial reform areas

The Subgroup on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture Recovery is composed of social development leaders and civil society organizations, namely, Raul Socrates Banzuela, National Coordinator, PAKISAMA; Jose Deles, Kasanyangan Center for Community Development and Microfinance Foundation, Inc.; Cristina Liamzon, Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture advocate; Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, FSSI Executive Director; Marlene Ramirez, Secretary-General of AsiaDHRRA; Omar Salvo, Peace and Equity Foundation; Luis Razon Abad, Young Public Servants; Veronica Fenix Villavicencio, INCITEGov.  Inputs were also solicited from Senen Bacani, former Department of Agriculturesecretary; Marilyn Manila, President of Mga Likha ni Inay, Inc. of Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually ReinforcingInstitutions; and Cresente Paez, President of Philippine Family Farmers Agriculture Fishery Forestry Cooperatives Federation (AgriCOOPh).

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What's New in FSSI

BACKGROUND

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) is a social investment organization committed to support the development of sustainable communities through social entrepreneurship. Since 1995, we have  been supporting  social enterprises across the Philippines through loans and capacity building. Our organization promotes the triple bottom line (3BL): social equity, environmental protection, and economic development, also referred to as three P’s or PEOPLE, PLANET, PROFIT.  

SUMMARY OF TASKS AND QUALIFICATIONS:

FSSI is in need of two interns who will report to the Project Development and Monitoring Unit.

Research Intern
  • Must have completed subjects or demonstrated competence in research methodology, conducting surveys, report writing and documentation
  • Will draft research instruments, administer surveys, and prepare research reports 
Creative intern
  • Must have completed subjects or demonstrated competence in graphic design, copywriting and video editing
  • Will develop marketing materials targeting a range of audiences from cooperatives to start ups, SMEs and multi sector institutional partners

PERIOD OF ASSIGNMENT

Duration: August to December 2020 (est 20 weeks) 

Please note that FSSI provides a modest stipend for communication expenses.  Interns may choose to continue work beyond 20 weeks in agreement with the designated supervisors, but without stipend. They are also expected to use their own laptop.

LOCATION

Work from home

QUALIFICATIONS

Candidate must be a student, enrolled in a graduate-level degree program at the time of application and during internship. Candidates that have graduated are not eligible for internship

COMPETENCIES

  • Excellent organizational, time management and strong interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work flexibly and meet deadlines;
  • Attention to details and proven ability to work independently and effectively
  • Proficiency in computer software related to key tasks assigned (MS Office and graphic design or editing software such as Photoshop, InDesign, etc)

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

  1. Proof of enrolment with inclusive dates to confirm that you will be enrolled during the intended period of assignment.
  2. Resume

Interested applicants can email their requirements to carolinecepeda@fssi.com.ph

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What's New in FSSI

Introduction

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI) is looking for a consultant to conduct an IT assessment and propose IT enhancements to ensure a secure, appropriate, and reliable IT system.

FSSI is a non-government organization established in 1995. It manages an endowment fund which resulted from the successful debt swap campaign of international and local organizations to cancel the foreign debt from the Swiss government.

FSSI has promoted a “triple bottom line” (3BL) approach in supporting social enterprise development. This approach enables social enterprises to manage their economic, social, and environmental impact. FSSI supports social enterprises by providing financial and technical services that enables them to achieve their profit, people and planet bottom lines. FSSI has a range of products and services that include equities, loans, deposits, and grants, as well as business development support services.

FSSI is embarking on a new journey with its newly crafted Strategic Plan 2020 – 2024. The strategic plan has four key results areas (KRA): financial service delivery, social enterprise development, asset and investment management, and organizational development.

One of the strategic goals under the organizational development key result area is to enhance FSSI’s processes and decision making through effective and reliable MIS. One of its objectives is laying down and maintain a secure, appropriate, and reliable IT system by 2020.

Purpose

The overall purpose of the consultancy work is to assess the current information technology system and propose a recommendation for system enhancement based on the requirements of FSSI’s business processes.

Scope of Work

The consultant will conduct the following:

  1. Review and update the draft MIS / IT assessments available.
  2. Develop or adopt a specific and systematic MIS assessment tool to examine various aspects of the IT system in relation to its intended goals.
  3. Perform a systematic and thorough review of the MIS system of FSSI and the IT systems used in the office which includes both hardware (computers, servers, networks, etc.), software (custom applications, cloud services, client/server OS, security, etc.), IT policies (IT use, security, disaster recovery, management of systems, etc.), and IT services (procurement, help desk, etc.).
  4. Draft a comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage system enhancement which considers the strategic goals of the MIS, the proposed IT strategy, and cost management.
  5. Discuss with relevant staff and senior management the proposal, including the advantage and disadvantages.

The consultant will not perform the needed system enhancement to ensure impartiality to any product or service. He/she will be disqualified from any future call for the performance of the system enhancement.

Deliverables

  • IT/MIS assessment methodology and tool based on industry standard tools; these will be discussed and approved by FSSI
  • IT/MIS assessment report, including the identification of the appropriate IT/MIS requirements
  • Comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage enhancement of FSSI IT/MIS based on the assessment and the proposed IT strategy of FSSI
    • with annex listing recommended and alternative technologies, together with their brands, models, and cost estimates. 
  • Presentation to and discussion with FSSI senior management and concerned staff of the IT/MIS assessment report and the comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage enhancement of FSSI IT/MIS.

Duration and Location

The coordination meetings with the staff and IT assessment will be held at the FSSI office or thru online meetings.

The consultancy is a part-time professional service contract of around 6­­-7 days.

Estimated Timeline for the consultancy:

Institutional Arrangement

The consultant will work with the M&E Officer and Administration Assistant, and other staff as needed. The consultant will report directly to the M&E Officer.

FSSI will purchase the required materials and equipment for the IT upgrade.

Qualifications

  1. With educational background on Management Information Systems, Information Technology, Computer Science, and other related courses
  2. Expert in Microsoft technologies, especially Windows 10, Microsoft 365, and Azure.
  3. Expert in Windows Server technology, Active Directory, and other windows server technologies (familiarity with Ubuntu Linux technologies is a plus)
  4. Proficient in networking technologies and management
  5. Proficient in IT security and disaster recovery
  6. Familiar with financial services organization applications and technologies (credit services)
  7. Familiar with developing IT operational procedures, Security policies, IT services, help desk processes

Application Process

Interested and qualified candidates should submit their applications which should include the following:

  1. Proposed IT assessment methodology and implementation work plan.
  2. Quotation (Professional Fee) for the consultancy work.
  3. Updated and detailed curriculum vitae

Applications should be emailed to the Human Resources and Administration Manager Doreen Erasga, doreen@fssi.com.ph not later than August 13, 2020, Thursday.

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What's New in FSSI

Investing in women makes smart economics and – in the COVID-19 scenario – will be essential for economic turnaround during the post-pandemic recovery.

Yet, many women remain marginalized. Businesses owned and led by women account for a large untapped source of job creation and economic growth in developing countries, including the Philippines. Women-owned or led social enterprises (WSEs) encounter significantly more barriers to growth than their male counterparts, including less access to capital to expand their enterprises.

To address the financing gap, Investing in Women (IW), an initiative of the Australian Government, has partnered with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI). Programmatically active for 10 years, the project involves an investment capital from IW and FSSI of at least Php 80 Million (AUD 2.5 Million) to support the business growth of WSEs.

Supporting Women Owned/Led Social Enterprises 

The IW-FSSI Project will support the development and scaling up of 12 WSEs. These enterprises are those with clear and viable business expansion plans, and a commitment to consistently improve their triple bottom line targets of People, Planet, and Profit and drivers of growth for their respective social enterprises. The project will provide the following support:

Investment Capital

· Investment capital of between Php7M to Php16M per WSE through either debt financing, equity or mezzanine financing, joint venture or any combination of these

· Promotion of gender lens investing (GLI) through tapping additional investors

Technical Assistance

· Reviewing and/or drawing up business strategic plans

· Making available updated trends and information about the industry, market, technology, finance, and sales

· Providing training and mentoring (on financial management, marketing and sales, quality control, HR development, change management, and business continuity planning)

Other Support

· Support for the adoption of appropriate industry/business innovations

· Appropriate environmental management plans

· Gender planning

Established in 1995 through a debt for development swap between the governments of the Philippines and Switzerland, FSSI seeks to apply innovative financing and capacity building support that will maximize both social and financial returns through valuable entrepreneurship, at the same time ensuring equitable development and environmental sustainability in all its initiatives. Since 1995, it has supported over 200 sustainable development projects in marginalized communities. 

“We are grateful for our partnership with IW and we look forward to working with women-owned and women-led social enterprises (WSEs), especially at this challenging time when the pandemic is affecting many WSEs,” said FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet.

The IW-FSSI project will tap the expertise and networks of FSSI’s consortium partners, the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), in delivering the needed capacity building and mentoring requirements. 

The following are the criteria for women social enterprises to become partners of FSSI’s Investing in Women (IW) Project:

For more information or inquiries about the IW Project, contact:

Irene Fernandez

Partnership Manager, FSSI

irene@fssi.com.ph

Erness Guinto

IW Project Officer, FSSI

ernessguinto@fssi.com.ph


Visit Investing in Women for more details.

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What's New in FSSI

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) held its first 25th Anniversary Webinar on July 23, 2020, with speakers Prof. Cielito F. Habito, Ph.D, Former NEDA Director General and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and Mr. Rico Gonzales, Managing Director of social enterprise incubator Xchange.

The webinar on Rising Up to the Challenge: Social Enterprises in the Time of COVID-19 looked into the situation and outlook for the Philippine economy, particularly the challenges and prospects for social enterprises, in light of COVID-19. 

You may view the webinar below:

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Newsletter, What's New in FSSI

Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, provides an analysis around the impacts of COVID-19, previous pandemics and recessions, on the economic position of women through a rapid review of academic and grey literature on gender, COVID-19, and women’s formal employment. It also presents risks and opportunities looking ahead. Here is a summary of some of the key report findings. You can access the full report here 

 
What Previous Recessions and Pandemics Tell Us 

There are unequivocal findings showing consistent common themes that women’s economic security, formal employment participation, political representation, health outcomes, and educational achievement are negatively affected by economic and health crises, more so than men’s. These outcomes have a long-term negative impact on women’s human capital formation and economic security. Further, economic and health crises exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and set gender equality back.  

Women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to economic shocks compared to men. Pre-existing gender inequalities mean that women have less access to productive resources, which translates to lower earnings and bargaining power; thus, women’s limited ability to develop their capabilities, make strategic choices, and participate on equal terms with men in the economy.  

The negative consequences of economic and health crises on women are compounded by the systematic lack of women’s participation and leadership in crisis response and recovery strategies and the failure to include gender-specific analyses in these strategies. The recovery period following recessions is estimated to be 3–7 years and previous crises demonstrate that a lack of attention to gender equality in national and business response recovery strategies will set gender equality back decades.  

Women and COVID-19 

The COVID-19 crisis is more significant than previous economic or health crises in both depth and scope. Women have been affected immediately and are likely to be more adversely affected in the longer term unless gender progressive interventions are made.  

The worst affected sectors include retail trade, accommodation, food services, tourism, and manufacturing – all of which are highly feminized, making women exposed to the heaviest burden of job loss and a prolonged decline in income and labor force participation.1 

Women are also disproportionately employed in the health sector and associated industries operating at the frontlines. The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of the global healthcare workforce are women. While health workers represent a relatively small proportion of the total workforce in Southeast Asian countries where Investing in Women works – the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar -they are exposed to the direct health risks of COVID-19, often without adequate personal protective equipment and for very long hours, vulnerable to infection and worried about passing infection to their families.  

COVID-19 has also intensified pre-existing gender division of labor and the double burden of paid and unpaid work. Social norms mean that many women have found themselves responsible for home schooling their children, caring for elderly family members, and doing household chores even while working. Where working from home has been implemented, there have been some reports it has driven a more equitable division of work and care2 while others have reported this has contributed to an elevated risk of domestic violence.3 

Post-COVID-19: Risks and Opportunities  

In a crisis context, there is a risk women may face a ‘new normal’ or a return to the ‘old normal’ of reduced employment opportunities as employers prioritize male employees in the allocation of work and in the rehiring and promotion process. Women may also face work conditions being degraded due to financial pressures, reflecting the prioritization of economic efficiency over labor rights. 

The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to revalue economic and care work. If gender-sensitive policies, including work from home arrangements, are carefully implemented, this could improve pay and conditions for the female workforce. Men’s exposure to the full domestic experience during lockdown could also prompt a positive shift in the gendered division of labor. Sharing the burden of essential unpaid work could have positive normative and economic effects on women’s economic participation. 

There are opportunities post-COVID-19 to embed gender equality at the center of national recovery strategies in line with the global commitment to improving women’s workforce participation (G20, 2017).  

As governments and businesses focus on immediate concerns of health, livelihoods and the economy, gender equality may take a ‘backseat’ in crisis management. However, gender-blind policies could have damaging consequences for workplace equality. Previous recessions have shown that diversity and inclusion strategies also fall in priority. If economic recovery strategies are gender responsive, there is an opportunity to ‘build back better’ with women and girls as a focus in crisis management and recovery (UN, 2020).  

Gender equitable recovery strategies will also boost national productivity, deliver inclusive growth, and underwrite the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. These strategies should include policy measures that support women’s formal employment opportunities, women’s entrepreneurial activity, and unpaid care work.  

Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, catalyzes inclusive economic growth through women’s economic empowerment in Southeast Asia. Established in 2016, Investing in Women uses innovative approaches to improve women’s economic participation as employees and as entrepreneurs and to influence the enabling environment to promote women’s economic empowerment in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar 

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Newsletter, What's New in FSSI

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) is extending a business rehabilitation loan to social enterprise (SE) partners affected by COVID-19 and the ensuing community quarantines.  

The loan with discounted interest rates is one of the identified needs of partner SEs to help them recover from the effects of the quarantines on their business and cope with new or additional business requirements through access to financial services.  

The Business Rehabilitation Loan will cater to current partner SEs of FSSI significantly affected by COVID-19 and the community quarantines, including those which have suffered a 20% or more decline in their revenue or income in the past months and in their projected revenue or income for 2020 and 2021.  

The loans may be used for working capital or fixed asset acquisition, and priority will be given to SEs providing essential goods and services, such as those in food production and distribution.  

With the travel limitations being imposed under community quarantines, FSSI is making adjustments in its operations by tapping local coordinators to ensure processing and approval of loan applications are unhampered. FSSI is also working with member networks to continue to provide development and technical assistance to SE partners.  

In March, FSSI announced extension of due dates for all loan payments during the quarantine period.  

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Photo courtesy of Bote Central Inc 

There seems to be no clear end in sight yet to the coronavirus pandemic. The government has put a name on the “new normal”— the general community quarantine (GCQ) involves more relaxed measures compared to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that is still in place in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas. Businesses now have to adapt to the long-haul reality that COVID-19 brought upon us.    

Fortunately for the local coffee industry, a social enterprise (SE) invested in changing the mindset and empowering coffee farmers to process and roast their own coffee. Now their investment is paying off, as some farmer cooperatives and groups continue to operate and sell their products in their own localities, keeping their livelihood despite the disruption in the supply chain caused by the lockdowns.  

Empowering local coffee farmers as agro-entrepreneurs  

According to Vie Reyes, co-founder of Bote Central Inc., the lockdown has affected the supply of raw coffee beans from Mindanao, Visayas, and Cordillera to processors in Manila, illustrating the plight of many farmers who are unable to sell their produce to the market.  Now, more than ever, farmers are realizing how important it is to have their own coffee processing.  “Swerte ‘yung mga magkakape na may mga sariling processing, na may roasting machines, kasi nabubuhay sila. In fact, nakakapagnegosyo pa rin sila ng kape dun sa communities nila, sa areas nila,” Reyes shares.   

Bote Central Inc., a partner of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), is a social enterprise that promotes the sustainability of the Philippine coffee industry through rationalizing the supply chain and embedding Fair Trade principles in their business. Bote Central empowers farmers to be more than suppliers, and enables them to move up the value chain as small-scale processors.   

The enterprise was able to drive local economic development through technology. Bote Central designs and builds their own coffee roasting machines, which they share with their partner coffee farming communities across the country. Their roasting machines, suitable for smallholder farmers, made it possible for these farmers to economically process and sell their own coffee, paving the way for community-based coffee roasting business facilities. In that way, farming communities can add value to their raw coffee beans and create sources of income for their families.  

Photo courtesy of Bote Central Inc

In the end, Bote Central’s intervention is not only in providing these machines at a reasonable price to local small farmers, but in opening up opportunities, ones that used to belong only to bigger players in the industry.   

Grounded in market reality over promise of false hopes  

Besides taking ownership of their role in the coffee value chain, Bote Central also imparts to farmers the value of speaking their minds. “‘Yun ang ginawa namin na change as an SE, na baguhin ‘yung values or ‘yung confidence, ‘yung mentalidad ng farmers,” Reyes shares. Bote Central, however, understands that this is only one side of the equation.  

If you talk to the farmers, balewala na sabihin mo sa kanila na magtanim kasi maganda ang presyo…

Ang dami-dami mong pwedeng sabihin sa farmers, pero we call them the false promises. Kasi you’re just giving them false hopes.

Dapat konektado ang lahat ng binibigay mong promise or hope sa market.”  

When Bote Central entered the world of coffee, it was not only the farmers that they saw needed to be changed, but the market itself. Both the farmers and the market concerns in-address naminKasi ‘di pwedeng production lang. Kailangan may kasabay siya na consumption. ‘Yung promises dapat may kabangga on the other end of the value chainYou cannot just promise the farmers na they will have gold at the end of their rainbow.”  

Bote Central imparts that the farmer himself and the communities where the farmers reside are part of the market. Reyes emphasized that, in fact, that is the primary market that the farmers should focus on. Mismong sa bahay nila umiinom sila ng kape. ‘Yung kapitbahay ni farmerumiinom ng kape, ‘yung barangay, umiinom ng kape, she explains. This is the very same market which currently operating businesses take advantage during this lockdown, given limitations on travel and mobility. 

Besides the sale of roasting machines which unfortunately has temporarily stopped, Bote Central is also engaged in the sale of coffee sourced directly from their partner farming communities. They have developed brands to cater to different market segments, but they still only move within 10 to 15 percent of the market, which they try to expand. “Consumption of coffee in the Philippines is 85 to 90 percent commodity coffee. As an SE, if you want to really make an impact sa economy natin, sa market natin, sa farmers natin, dun ka gagalaw, Reyes shares.   

Their business philosophy  

Reyes is thankful that although it is not a basic necessity like rice or meat or vegetables, coffee is part of the food mentality of Filipinos. They were also lucky to stock up on a full inventory of coffee beans before COVID-19 hit. Their Basilio brand is still available in supermarkets, and they are also pleasantly surprised with the number of online orders they receive during the ECQ. It helped that they have set up online ordering prior to COVID-19 and are ramping up online sales. However, she admits that it is nothing compared to corporate accounts, institutional accounts, and monthly orders which make up most of their revenue and are currently suspended due to the ECQ.  

Raw coffee beans are also waiting to be transported from their source communities. “Ang essence talaga ng survival ngayon is move the beansWhen we say “move the beans,” it’s literally moving and selling,” she says.  

Under ECQ, Bote Central is operating at 20% production. Only select employees are also qualified to move around, following government policies. As with other businesses, their plans this year were also pushed back. However, in the midst of these concerns, Bote Central sees several windows of opportunities. For now, that opportunity is working with the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo and other volunteers in providing free coffee for front liners. We made it into an opportunity kasi lahat naman ng business opportunities come from a problemGanun kami mag-isipGanun rin yung binibigay namin na value sa mga farmer. Kung may problemapag-usapan natin, at tingnan natin kung merong solusyon.”  

Besides the significant decrease in production and income, they also experience a higher cost of moving their products around. In terms of needed support from the government and other organizations, the enterprise considers loans and grant facilities important to help them weather this crisis; relaxed loan settlements and tax relief will also be of great help.  

FSSI has provided its partners a 60-day extension on due dates of their loan amortization and is discussing additional flexibility terms as needed to help partners cope with the effects of COVID-19 on their operations. 

Bote Central’s “after-COVID” plan is already in the pipeline. They will be putting up more coffee roasting facilities in partnership or joint venture with other SEs, businesses, or individuals who share the same business endeavor.  

In the meantime, Bote Central is shipping its coffee products nationwide in a limited capacity. In these extraordinary and trying times, let a good ol’ cup of a hundred percent locally made, sustainably sourced coffee brighten your day.  
 

Their Basilio and Alamid coffee are available for deliveries. You may place your orders online through https://botecentral.com/. You may also follow  Bote Central and Basilio: Coffee to Share on Facebook

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted to an unexpected slump in the Philippine economy. The latest report from the National Economic and Development Authority estimates that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will likely be at 4.3 at best and negative 0.6 percent at worst, assuming the impact of the crisis is felt until the middle of the year.1 This is a staggering decline from the target growth rate set for 2020 which is at 6.5 to 7.5 percent.2 Midway last month, Metro Manila was put under a community quarantine, which was eventually expanded to the entire Luzon, in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. Other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao have also announced lockdowns.

The “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon, now extended to April 30, has included the suspension of public transportation, classes, and work for non-essential businesses. Big and small businesses alike have continued to bear the brunt of the crisis as the general population is encouraged to stay at home. Social enterprises are not spared. Among FSSI partners, 31 out of 35 surveyed said that reduced mobility has affected their enterprise.

LiveGreen International is one of the few social enterprises that are able to operate, despite limited personnel. LiveGreen is engaged in the production, processing, and distribution of 100% fresh organic vegetables. Paris Uy, President and CEO, shared that their ongoing production is due to farmers continuing to work despite the crisis. Crops were planted in January and there is still a steady supply of farm produce. LiveGreen has around 30 to 40 partner farmers in Benguet, and some 10 to 15 in Batangas, Cavite, and Tanay.

Helping farmers who feed us

For Uy, the crisis is a wake-up call for society to support the farmers who are relentlessly producing our food. This calls for stronger links between the national and local governments and a better logistical support in transporting produce from farmers especially in the north to where the demand is across the country. Uy shares that they had difficulty transporting vegetables in the first few days of the lockdown, “Tuloy-tuloy ang production. Ang problema lang ay confusion and intervention of the LGU shutting down while the national government said food-related [cargo] can pass through.”

LiveGreen hauls five tons of vegetables from Baguio to Manila daily. In Baguio, farmers who come down to deliver goods to their La Trinidad warehouse often encounter delays due to the lockdown. Fortunately, it became easier when the Department of Agriculture (DA) issued food passes to ensure the unhampered movement of agricultural products through the numerous checkpoints across Luzon.

Uy also identifies the importance of coordination between government agencies concerned in the food supply chain and bringing food from producers to consumers. Come harvest time, if farmers are unable to bring their goods to Manila and with the decline in purchase orders from big businesses due to closure as what they have experienced during the lockdown, farmers are forced to dispose their produce — when local governments could have purchased these to be given out to families as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.

The DA has recently moved to consider workers in the agriculture and fisheries sector as front liners in the country’s fight against COVID-19. Various programs are also lined up to empower these front liners and boost local food production and manufacturing.

This crisis is changing the way we understand our health and even our food. For LiveGreen though, it is more than buying and eating local.

“Natural food is still the best food. Eventually the best way to keep ourselves healthy is to boost our immune system,” Uy shares.

Naturally growing products is the way to go. LiveGreen has always put prime in making sure that they provide organic, clean, and healthy food produced without the use of harmful chemicals. He also encourages backyard farming, as growing your own food makes a lot of difference now when most are confined in their homes and are finding limited access to groceries.

Opportunities ahead

As with every enterprise, the crisis is a continuous learning experience on resiliency and business continuity. This year, it has become clear to LiveGreen that their strategy must be scaling up online. Aside from physical distribution to supermarkets, the enterprise saw triple sales through online deliveries. They also saw an increase in the demand for other vegetable besides lettuces. People buy tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots more than usual, most likely to secure healthy food options for their households.

LiveGreen is determined to bring their systems online for the long term. Along with this is their vision to help farmers build among them a consortium that could potentially bring the price down by cutting off the middle man through an online database where consumers could readily access information on where to source fresh produce.

There may be a long way ahead in the fight against COVID-19, but the end of this pandemic is not about returning to normal; it’s about learning and thinking of ways to become better, and ultimately putting investments where our priorities should be. Our front liners such as our partners at LiveGreen and their partner farmers are seeing us through this crisis. It must be our turn to take care of them as well.


1 http://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NEDA_Addressing-the-Social-and-Economic-Impact-of-the-COVID-19-Pandemic.pdf

2 https://business.inquirer.net/293506/gdp-growth-projected-to-slide-to-2-6-in-2020

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