Cargill and Care combine with support for Philippines typhoon-impacted coconut farmers
Cargill has joined with non-governmental organisation Care Philippines to initiate a major agricultural regeneration project to assist key farming communities serving confectionery and wider food supply chains that have been hit by super typhoon Odette, reports Neill Barston.
The impact of the incident saw more than 10 million coconut trees felled, severely affecting its linked copra industry, which is of core importance within the island chain republic.
In response, Cargill has engaged with a mission to replant 100,000 coconut seedlings in Bohol, alongside Care and local partners for an operation known as Rise Coco (Recovery Intervention for Severely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by Super Typhoon Odette) project with a commemorative tree-planting ceremony in Brgy. Cabanugan, municipality of San Isidro.
As the company explained, the felled trees serving the copra industry (focused on the dried element of coconut, providing oil extracts), had been part of a market segment that had enjoyed 50 years of trading, which was now under threat. The company has worked with Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) on the disaster response programme.
“Sixty percent of my constituents are coconut farmers dependent on the coconut industry. This project has given them hope to persevere for their children who will benefit from the replanting of coconuts on their farms,” Mayor Diosdado Gementiza said.
Consequently, 100 coconut seedlings were carefully selected from the farmer-managed nursery in the barangay and were planted during the ceremony. These were part of over 20,000 coconut seed nuts and seedlings propagated and prepared for planting across 10 nurseries in partner farming communities in San Isidro, Calape, Catigbian and Loon municipalities. The remaining seed nuts will be consolidated in the coming months, with propagated seedlings to be planted at the coconut farms of partner farmers to reach the 100,000-tree mark by the end of the year.
As Cargill added, the Rise Coco project focuses on rehabilitating 700 hectares of coconut farms by replacing the damaged coconut trees in farms managed by 1,000 farming households from the four municipalities in Bohol.
This is being done through farmer-led propagation of seed nuts in community-based seedbeds and nurseries, farmer training on sustainable agriculture, provision of alternative livelihoods while waiting for the coconut trees to bear fruit, and establishment of farmer cooperatives for improved access to markets and corporate buyers.
At its core, Cargill is committed to building resilient agricultural communities and helping farmers thrive. According to the company, Rise Coco underpins that commitment by creating connections that advance the productivity and profitability of Filipino farmers. As Cargill gears up to mark its 75th year of operations in the Philippines, it is more determined to accelerate its efforts to create more value for farmers and support a more sustainable local coconut industry.
Jonathan Sumpaico, Cargill’s Copra and Palm Origination Commercial Director, added: “Cargill is committed to improving the livelihood of communities where we operate while meeting the increasing demand for sustainable coconut oil. We are proud to partner with Care Philippines in the Rise Coco project to ensure coconut farmers who have been affected by the typhoon will rebuild their livelihoods, in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way, and continue to benefit as our partners for economic development.
The project is working with the Cebu-Bohol Relief and Rehabilitation Centre (CRRC), which supports Care in carrying out the project on the ground. David Gazashvili, Care’s Country Director shared that the financial and technical oversight of Cargill, the established partnership with CRRC, the working relationship with the PCA and the support of the local government units have paved the way for the upscaling of the project.
“We also commend the efforts of our partner communities who are now managing their nurseries, learning valuable good agriculture practices from trainings and applying these in the rehabilitation of their farms and livelihood and sustaining it for their children,” he added.
Meanwhile, PCA National Administrator Bernie F. Cruz advised the coconut farmers to diversify their income from coconut by producing copra and other by-products such as charcoal, coco peat and coco coir from the husk, among others. He also recommended that farmers practice multi-cropping or inter-cropping. “Farmers would be able to augment their income by planting high-value crops or cash crops especially at times when copra prices are low,” he commented.