Fair Trade

Coco Zumi works with Fair Trade certified producers of products derived from coconuts and bananas. Among many other products, FairTSA Fair Trade coconut water is produced for Zumi Natural Limited. Located in the Philippines, our producer buys coconuts from many small farmers from the surrounding villages and towns, who grow the coconuts for the coconut water and coconut oil mainly in an agroforestry setting as pictured left.

Agroforestry, Fair Price & Social Premium

In agroforestry the crops (here bananas and coconuts) are grown amongst the natural tropical vegetation, and it is one of the most environmentally friendly agricultural production systems in existence. Once harvested, the coconuts are brought to the producer processing facility, and the coconut water with its many health benefits is packed in aseptic containers right in the country of origin. The small farmers are paid a fair price for the coconuts they supply, and a community development project, paid for by the social premium companies such as Zumi Natural Limited pay to the farmers, is planned by the producer community. Such a project is part of every FairTSA certified Fair Trade operation.

Inspection

Every year, an inspector visits the small farms and the processing facility and checks if the organic and fair trade requirements for the small farmers and the workers in the processing facility are met. He/she evaluates if the fair price has been paid, if the community development project is progressing according to plan, and other topics such as occupational health and safety and fair wages. Then the inspector sends the report to the certification agency, where the report is checked for compliance with the FairTSA Fair Trade standard by the certification reviewer, and when everything is in good order the Fair Trade certificate is issued.

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Community Development

The Community Development Project is chosen by the producer communities and a simple plan is drawn up. In the case of our producer, the first project chosen by the producer communities was the drilling of two wells in the Barangays (villages). The reason for the selection of these two projects is simple and obvious: Before the project started, it took the villagers about 2 hours and 1.5 hours respectively to fetch potable water.

Initially, it was envisioned to drill the wells by a hand-powered system, but owing to the difficult rocky terrain it had to be drilled by a diesel-powered drill.

In October 2012, the first well had been drilled and in early November, as is custom in the Philippines, the completed well was blessed in an inauguration ceremony in the presence of many villagers and some employees.

Importance of safe drinking water

In our developed societies we often even don’t think about access to safe drinking water, we simply take it for granted. For indigenous communities such as those in the regions we operate, access to safe drinking water can be a matter of life and death, and that is no exaggeration. Many waterborne pathogens, both bacteria and viruses, can cause severe illnesses, and waterborne pathogens are one of the leading causes of infant and small children deaths. Health care in the rural areas of the Philippines is bad to non-existent, and with an annual national health care budget of $7 per capita (2010), most of which is spent in the urban centers, this is not surprising. 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 in the lives of 200 people and save many young lives.

The next step…

The next step in the community development process is to the preparation of the drilling process for the second planned well. Once that well is completed, the producer communities will meet and determine the next project. Step by step, the community development process will make a difference in the life of the villagers. Not only can they be proud that their work is compensated fairly, they have tangible evidence that their voice is important in the creation of a community they can shape according to their needs and wishes.