The Fairtrade movement in the Philippines is relatively new but since the past 4 years, there has been a growing interest amongst the private and public sectors to learn about how the Fairtrade Labelling Organization and its certification scheme helps address poverty and drive sustainable income for farmers.
In the last quarter of 2020, a meeting was organized by Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers with an international financial institution and specialized United Nations agency – International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) along with its partners in the Philippines. The objective of the meeting was to explore strategic interventions by the 03 parties for facilitating the incorporation of more small-scale farmers in the country to benefit from the Fairtrade business model.
Following the meeting, Fairtrade NAPP was invited to be a part of the IFAD -Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (CONVERGE) Project Program from January 27-29, 2021 as a resource person to contribute to the reduction of poverty incidence in Regions 9, 10 and Caraga in the Philippines. The strategic focus of the CONVERGE Project is to reduce rural poverty by enabling smallholder farmers to engage in value chains so that they can increase the profitability of their household farm enterprises. One of its investment plans includes the sugar sector.
40 small-scale farmers, cooperative officers – representing the 347 family farmers, and Bukidnon Muscovado Inc staff, local and regional government officials were part of the event. On the 2nd day, Alter Eco– a Fairtrade company that sources organic and Fairtrade ingredients from small-scale farmers around the world, represented by Anne Meyer, Sustainable Chain Project Manager joined the discussion for a business-to-business consultation with the participants.
The highlight of the Program was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Fairtrade NAPP and Bukidnon Muscovado Inc- a stock corporation that was established to own and manage the Muscovado Sugar Processing Plant–a startup business supported by the IFAD- Converge Project.
Bukidnon Muscovado Inc. is owned by three sugar cooperatives whose members are agrarian reform beneficiaries and small sugar cane farmers in Southern Bukidnon, Philippines, and its mission are to improve the income of the small sugar cane farmers in the area by being an active participant and major player in the muscovado sugar value chain industry in the province of Bukidnon and in the Northern Mindanao in general.
Both the parties will work together in creating awareness about Fairtrade (standards, certifications, practices, policies, compliance, benefits, and opportunities) among its partners, provide market support to partners of Muscovado Production Project, and advice on building its business competitiveness, and linkages with prospective Fairtrade buyers in Europe and in Asia. It will jointly promote Fairtrade principles and practices within the policy framework in the Philippines by integrating Fairtrade principles in the advocacy, partnership, and organizational development of the partners within the country and region, identify opportunities and explore joint resource mobilization to support the development of supply chain, ensure quality production and strengthen market access of the partner Producer Organizations and Cooperatives.
The sustainable collaboration between the parties will benefit 347 small-scale farmers to be a part of a just and equitable world and to actively engage in the value chain for obtaining a fairer share in the market and trade.
The event marks yet another milestone achieved by NAPP in fulfilling its mission to facilitate the incorporation of more producers to be able to join the Fairtrade movement in Asia and the Pacific through an existing wide range of products and services.