Norma Mugar, chairman of the Board of Alter Trade, said yesterday that after the economic crisis in 1988 and the hurdles with rebel groups in 1999 and 2006, the company remains strong and continues its mission in providing fair trade and people to people trade with self sustaining efforts that benefits its partners, producers, and the consumers.
Alter Trade celebrated its 24th year yesterday and Mugar recalled how they went through tough times during the economic crisis in its early years and when rebel groups looked on them for financial support but, with the help of concerned groups and their partners, they were able survive those stages.
Mugar said that it was in 1988 when the organization was established to promote fair trade, especially for sugarcane farmers of Negros, when they realized that charitable works and distribution of relief goods cannot address the economic problems.
In 1988 Alter Trade first exported muscovado sugar to Japan and the following year, they exported the “balangon,” a local variety of banana, and have expanded their international markets to Europe, Australia, United States of America, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other places in the Asia Pacific, she said.
Alter Trade president Gilda Caduya also said they produce 57 percent balangon and its by-products, 42 percent mascovado, and 1 percent is attributed to other products.
She also said Negros Occidental takes the biggest share of product supply since the 42 percent muscovado sugar is produced solely by their assisted agrarian reform beneficiaries in the province, while 35 percent of balangon and its by-products are also produced by Negros farmers.
Its marketing and sales manager, Elizabeth Mondejar said they produce 1,800 metric tons of muscovado sugar every year, and 80 percent is exported and 20 percent distributed to the domestic market.
The president of Alter Trade Foundation Inc. Raymundo Tenefrancia, said that they produce and process 2,200 to 2,300 MT of balangon every year and it is sold to the Japanese market.
Tenefrancia added that recently, they got a small market share in South Korea for the balangon but they considered it a big opportunity for them to expand and distribute their products there.
Alter Trade is now venturing into producing organic products and has acquired accreditation from the international standard organizations of the European Union, Mugar also said.* LTG