Producer Profiles

ATC - Alter Trade Cooperative

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.
 

Quotable

We envision our organization as a professional, innovative and socially–responsible business organization. In partnership with self-reliant and self-determining communities, we are responding to the demands of customers in the Philippines and the world for quality produce from sustainable agriculture, operating in a viable, socially-just economic system that is in harmony with the environment and the society.  

ATC Vision

Programs

Infrastructure for Direct Export

Alter Trade Cooperative has created the infrastructure for the organization to process, package and market sugar for direct export. This development allows the sugarcane producers to keep a higher percentage of the value-added price of their product.

Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

Alter Trade Cooperative promotes environmentally-friendly production through the development of sustainable agriculture and organic farming technology at the producer organizations level. Specifically, they provide incentives to organic production in the form of collateral-free loan package, subsidies for organic inputs, and seeds for diversification.

Plans to Install a Potable Water System

With premiums received in 2009, Alter Trade Cooperative plans to install a potable water system project in the Amano community in order to decrease the incidence of water born diseases.