“It has been an extraordinary year for honey,” beamed Mercedes Limsa, Executive Director of the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL).
Indeed, their social enterprise Operasyong Negosyo ng Natripal (ONN) has already shipped 9 tons of wild honey to Manila and Cebu, who in turn have buyers from South Korea and the United States of America. The dry season has been favorable to the business as supply is continuous. As a result, buyers from different markets have flocked NATRIPAL.
Moreover, wild honey has found usage in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Korean buyers use honey for beauty regimens while European doctors add the sweet-bitter honey variety for easier digestion of medicines, says ONN Operations Manager Loreta “Inday” Alsa.
NATRIPAL is one of PEF’s partners in Palawan on improving the lives of IP communities through expansion of wild honey production. It is a federation of three IPs in Palawan namely, Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Batak. Their chief mission is to gain recognition for the rights of the indigenous peoples over their ancestral domains. Considering that the indigenous communities are also at the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder, NATRIPAL believes that it is necessary to augment IPs’ living standards to enhance their self-esteem.
ONN Area Crafts Staff Jinky Bernardo said that there is an oversupply of honey already. Despite this, IP communities continue to sell their merchandise to NATRIPAL on consignment basis.
“Normally though, the organization is beleaguered with problems on getting supply of honey due to its seasonality,” said Inday Alsa. However, she said that 2014 has been a favorable year as more than half of their stock has already been shipped.
The 8 IP communities of Palawan, mainly Tagbanua and Batak honey gatherers, benefit from this social enterprise through provision of regular income by NATRIPAL. “We pay the honey gatherers an average of P 80 to 100/kilo for wild honey. The weight includes the hive whereas other buyers pay for pressed honey without the hive at 300 to 500/ gallon,” said Alsa. One gallon of honey is equivalent to 8.34 kgs, meaning other buyers purchase from the communities at less than half NATRIPAL’s price.
The additional income provided to the gatherers lasts during the honey season, from February to April. According to latest data from NATRIPAL, this translates to a 32% increase in IP’s overall income.
There are also IP consolidators who gather the different produce of communities who cannot afford to go to NATRIPAL’s office. On the average, the consolidators are paid P 62.50/ kilo. Aside from this, the participating IP communities and associations receive P 1/ kilo of the honey gathered by the community. Honey processing comprises 92% of NATRIPAL’s income.
Presently, NATRIPAL assists 130 honey gatherers from eight communities located mainly in the Southern part of Palawan. Aside from wild honey, NATRIPAL also trade non-timber forest product (NTFPs) such as rattan-made handicrafts and almaciga resin. A total of 581 households are indirectly benefited from the organization’s social enterprise. These various products are displayed in their store called Arandeman, located at the NATRIPAL office.
PEF, since 2011, has been helping poor households by supporting, promoting, and scaling up sustainable social enterprises in communities. PEF has been at the forefront in helping poverty reduction in the country. It continuously provides assistance in terms of capability building, market linkaging, technology assessment, and networking that completes the SE Ecosystem.