The Alter Trade Cooperative is located on the island of Negros in the Philippines. On the island of Negros alone, the total agricultural area planted with sugarcane reaches 576,637 acres (equivalent to 85 percent of total cultivated area) for a total of 330,000 sugar worker households. Sugar production represents 70 percent of the total revenue of the island. Traditionally, very few farmers own the land they work on. Rather, a handful of rich landowners have owned the majority of the land and have maintained a monopoly over production and the trade of sugar. The Alter Trade Cooperative was created in 1997 to fight poverty by helping sugarcane workers gain access to land, resources and markets. The Alter Trade Group initiative is aimed at helping former sugar plantation workers obtain land through the Philippines Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It also encourages new small farm owners to form a viable, competitive cooperative enterprise capable of raising incomes and living standards for its members. The producer members of the 27 organizations that form the cooperative are all former sugarcane plantation workers who organized and lobbied to obtain land through agrarian reform. When the farmers finally received their small plots of land, they decided to cultivate the land as a large, communal landholding in order to reach greater productivity. The cooperative helps them obtain better prices and provides technical assistance and credit. Many members have implemented organic production methods that have increased the fertility of the soil and the final price to the farmers. The support of Fair Trade has proven essential for these previously unskilled, mono-crop workers who did not have access to capital or knowledge of how to access the market.
Number of Members: