From certified organic to certified success

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. For the struggling farmers in Alegria town, Cebu, it was time to do something different to succeed. And they did.

Agriculture had long been the primary source of income for Alegria residents, but they faced a crisis when their traditional farm produce were no longer enough to provide for their families and sustain their community.

Local farmers sought new ways to increase their income, and got help from the enterprising food manufacturers of the Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center (SPFTC). To bring back growth to the community’s livelihood, SPFTC shared their knowledge in food processing and marketing in 2012. Starting with coconuts, they also introduced other high-value products to give farmers higher returns compared to their usual crops.

SPFTC trained local farmers on better farming methods, growing organic coconut and fair trade practices, which raised the standards for their local produce and expanded the farmers’ capacity with the addition of coconut food processing and coconut charcoal production. SPFTC facilitated the establishment of a shared service facility from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for an efficient production system.

With the help of SPFTC, Alegria’s farmers tilled their lands to produce highly in-demand malunggay, turmeric, and desiccated coconut products. SPFTC processed these raw products and delivered them to new markets, ensuring that local farmers always have a ready buyer to purchase their products at a fair price.

Eventually, the efforts of the Alegria farmers to improve their products and adapt to better farming systems paid off. Their desiccated coconuts were the first to be given organic certification in 2015, which allowed SPFTC to gain new markets and increase demand for local products, subsequently raising the income of farmers in the region. All this because they dared to try something new.

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