Celebes Coconut Corporation is a FairTSA Fair Trade certified producer of coconut and banana products. Located in Butuan City in the North of the Philippines’ southernmost island, Mindanao, Celebes sources their coconuts from many small farmers of the surrounding villages and towns who grow their crop mainly in an agroforestry setting. Since 2012, FairTSA has been collaborating with these farmers on yearly infrastructure projects that aim to provide long-term benefit to their communities.
Below: Producers meeting in 2014 to discuss the annual Community Development Project, using communal decision-making processes to decide how to best leverage social premium funding. These meetings help ensure that the Fair Trade premium funding is used most effectively. Once a proposal is chosen, we assess for feasibility then document project progression, working in tandem with a network of authorized inspectors and collaborating certifiers
overview of 2012 - 2018 Projects
For indigenous communities such as those on Mindanao, access to safe drinking water can be a matter of life and death. Many waterborne pathogens, both bacterial and viral, can cause severe illness, and are also one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the region.
Health care in the rural areas of the Philippines varies from very low quality to non-existent and with an annual national health care budget of $7 per capita (2010), most attention is given to large urban centers. With an average annual family income of EURO 1,850 (2011), limited or no public transportation, and very limited access to health care, this simple hand-operated well alleviates some of the hardship of over 200 people and may save many young lives.
2012 - 2013: Well drilling project
The first project chosen was the drilling of two wells in the Barangays (villages) of Concepcion and Camanga. These rural communities were chosen due to their isolation which required trips of 1.5 and 2 hours (Camanga, and Concepcion, respectively) on foot to fetch water from streams that were often polluted. In line with FairTSA’s commitment to build producer confidence and encourage the use of new skills, villagers initially planned to utilize local labor and materials through the use of a hand-powered drilling system. The rocky terrain, however, proved too difficult for this method and eventually, a diesel-powered drill had to be contracted to complete the project.
2013 - 2017: FSUU Scholarship
In August of 2013, the FairTSA scholarship fund was created and six worthy students were awarded full scholarships for their education at Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) in Butuan City. FSUU requires from students a strong commitment to their communities and the completion of a community project before graduation. All six students successfully graduated in May 2017.
2014: Training and Seminars
2014 saw seminars and trainings for farmers focused on the understanding of organic standards, farm management practices, community development services and FairTSA standards. It was also during this time that the plan to distribute approximately 100 small solar panels among farmer families without access to electricity was developed.
2014-2015: Solar Panel Project
For many remotely-located villagers working with Celebes, cell phone communication is the only way to coordinate for the collection of their coconuts — an often complicated process involving the maneuvering of large trucks across extreme terrain. Despite this necessity, many villagers lack access to electricity and must travel up to an hour to charge their devices (which are thus only charged for one or two days a week). In order to address this dilemma, community members decided to install solar panels in villager homes to provide basic lighting and allow for the charging of phones. Now with fully charged mobile devices, villagers can efficiently coordinate coconut pickups without having to wait around, sometimes for days on end, to see whether the shipment trucks arrive.
Right: Solar panels pre-assembly.
Below: Solar panel installation and distribution. Since the project began in early 2015, 100 solar panel kits have been distributed. With this new energy source, villagers can now opt to have the coconut drying process at night which is more efficient and allows for greater flexibility with their schedule.
2015: Maya-os Deep well project
Maya-os is a coconut and banana-producing villages located in the north of Minandao, Phillipines. Previously, their water system consisted of a 1 inch rubber tube that fed to smaller lines leading to individual households. On good days, this system worked decently for families close to the beginning of the line, but on bad ones, it proved incapable of providing water to the community. On a visit by Dr. Winfried Fuchshofen in April, 2015, it was decided that a new well was to be dug as part of that years FairTSA Community Development project. A location was decided on, and the well was completed in September of that year.
Below: Photos of completed well and construction process.
2016 - 2017 Projects
For 2016, the continuation of two scholarships, and the distribution of school supplies and uniforms was planned. Due to logistical problems, the distribution of the supplies did not happen in 2016 but was postponed for 2017 and was completed in July of that year. Producers also requested emergency funding to deal with a rodent infestation of their coconut. The solution — attaching metal strips to the bottom of the trees to make them insurmountable to mice — was simple and, although this request came after the project was submitted, funding was still made available promptly.
2018 Falcata and Banana Suckers Project
In order to develop supplementary income sources and create lasting economic sustainability, producers distributed banana suckers and falcata seedlings to 595 interested participants in Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur. Each farmer planted on average 87 suckers, which typically around $4 of yearly profit per grown banana tree.
Farmers were also given Falcata seedlings which improve soil fertility (due to nitrogen fixation via bacteria from the air) and produce a wood usable for building projects, harvestable in as little as 7 years. Working in tandem with the banana seedlings — which provide food security and an additional income source — the growth of Falcata will substantially bolster the financial security of the small holding farmers. Over the course of the project, 52,168 suckers were planted, with producers being paid labor costs per planted sucker.
Falcata Project Estimates
The numbers below are based on the following assumptions: 100 falcata suckers per farmer, 50 banana suckers per farmer, survival rate 80% for both falcata and banana trees, value of Falcata tree US-$ 8/tree over 7 years, annual net income per banana tree per farmer US$4 for 6 years, 20% of bananas used for own consumption; the amount for in-house contribution is an estimate. The distribution of the seedlings was finalized in October 2017.