Oikocredit and Local Philippines Distributor Help Small-scale Producers Tap Urban Markets
Oikocredit—Monday, June 11, 2012
Although we often think of fair trade between the so-called global south and global north, Canadians can help promote fair trade within emerging economics in countries such as the Philippines.
For example, there is growing demand for organic products in Manila and other major cities in the Philippines. Unfortunately, most small-scale farmers face huge difficulties in selling their organically-produced commodities to these health-conscious, wealthy urban shoppers.
Canadians who buy bonds in the financial cooperative Oikocredit have helped Filipino farmers bridge this cap. Oikocredit financing is enabling a local marketing firm to work with local producers to meet stringent demands imposed by supermarkets selling organically-produced, national produce.
Large retailers demand compliance in areas such as packaging, product quality, and delivery schedules. Small-scale farmers find it hard to meet these criteria. These large retailers also make poor farmers wait for their pay for weeks.
Enter Upland Marketing Foundation Inc., the local marketing firm supported by loans from Oikocredit and other partners in the global north.
As a fair trade marketing firm and distributor, UMFI works with about 60 community based enterprises operating in 17 provinces by packaging, merchandising, and advertising their products.
“We help bridge the big divide between the rural agri-business and the large urban merchandiser,” says Rene Guarin, Executive Director of UMFI.
With steadfast commitment to fair trade practices, UMFI has developed its special niche by focusing on organic products for health-conscious consumers. Its new packaging features a butterfly as it is known to be the first affected by mounting pollution.
“Our organic products are so successful that we are being copied,” says Mr. Guarin.“But our fair price proposition is still unique.”
The organization enjoyed steady growth for the past decade. It now supplies to over 350 supermarket outlets in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog.
Oikocredit financing is enabling UMFI to expand activities and develop new merchandise which will diversify its product lines.