Alter Trade Corporation is not only supporting small farmers in Negros but also those in north and south Cotabato, Bohol, Panay and in Cebu, its president, Gilda Caduya, said at the opening of Fair Trade Plus in Brgy. Mandalagan, Bacolod City yesterday.
Caduya said they have also partnered with Alter Trade Japan, which has been very instrumental in starting alternative trading between the farmers in Negros and Japanese consumers.
She recalled that when the sugar crisis hit Negros in the 1980’s, the sugar workers were the ones who suffered much.
The setting up of Alter Trade, or alternative business, is to help farm workers empower themselves and come up with alternative livelihood and help them market their produce, Caduya said.
In Negros, they have assisted 11 sugar cooperatives composed of more than 400 households, as well as, 12 associations and 1,500 households for the balangon banana farmers, she said.
They have also set the trend in terms of organic farming, she added.
The opening ofFair Trade Plus will serve as an outlet to showcase various fair trade, safe and organic products coming from their partner producers, trade partners and other development oriented organizations, Caduya said.
Alter Trade has also been exporting its organic muscovado sugar and naturally grown balangon bananas in Korea, Germany, Switzerland, United States of America, Australia, and other Asian countries.
Makoto Ueda, Alter Trade Japan president, said that, aside from the Philippines, they are also working with their partners in Malaysia, East Timor, and other countries. They trade coffee, mascovado, balangon, cocoa, among others.
Masahiko Hotta said ATJ chairman of the Board, said also encouraged small farmers to diversify and not to rely so much in the sugar industry.
In his message read by Executive Assistant Jonathan Lobaton, Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said “Over the years you continue to prove that you remain a partner of the province in developing our economy. It is something to note that while sugar is an important commodity of the province, Alter Trade offer some alternatives not only to develop other goods as option for local growth, but most of all, it has helped empower our local producers to contribute in promoting a robust economy.”
Bacolod Councilor Archie Baribar congratulated Alter Trade and extended the city’s full support to the people behind the company.
The blessing of Fair Trade Plus yesterday was officiated by Fr. Ronald Quijano.*CGS
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