The programme, which is co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aims to improve coconut oil sustainability and the livelihoods of about 2,500 coconut growers in the Philippines. It focuses on improving productivity and oil quality – and thereby farmers’ incomes – and will introduce Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN) standards to allow Rainforest Alliance Certification.
Coconut oil is mainly used in food products, but its derivatives are also used in the home and personal care industry. Coconut production accounts for about a quarter of total agricultural land in the Philippines, and coconut products generated about US$2bn in export revenues in 2011, the partnership said.
“This project combines the strengths of public and private partners, and builds on the 40-year history of GIZ working in the Philippines,” said Wolfgang Moellers, GIZ portfolio manager, Philippines and the Pacific. “Sustainable economic development for smallholder coconut farmers will convey multiple benefits for families and communities related to this important crop.”
The project is in its initial stages, but farmers have already begun implementing new training in good agricultural practices for coconut production. Those involved in the programme will also be provided with coconut driers to improve the quality of the copra (coconut meat) and coconut oil they produce.
BASF vice president global procurement Natural Oils and Oleochemicals Harald Sauthoff said: “Contributing to the sustainability requirements of our supply chain by helping to set criteria and introduce a certification scheme for our home and personal care business is a core part of our corporate social responsibility efforts.”
General manager of Cargill’s Grain and Oilseeds business in the Philippines Efren Barlisan added that coconut production was critical to the Philippine economy, particularly in southern Mindanao, where the new sustainability project is concentrated.
“The project will help improve the livelihood of thousands of smallholder farmers in the region,” Barlisan said.