Roxas Sigma and FairTSA
2020 - 2021
Producers are at the heart of FairTSA Fair Trade certification. Together through community development projects and capacity building we are helping to directly impact the agricultural communities that grow and process our food.
Roxas Sigma Agriventures was formed in 2017 with the objective of establishing and operating a integrated coconut processing plant to serve business needs for high-quality coconut products, locally and globally. The company operates out of South Cotabato in the Philippines and has been FairTSA Fair Trade certified since 2019. Their workforce, raw materials, and other needs are all locally sourced from families and businesses. In addition to the job opportunities that the operation generates, they also offer local coconut farmers support and training. Roxas Sigma plans to expand their farmer education initiatives the coming years of their FairTSA Community Development Projects.
"At Roxas Sigma Agriventures, we recognize that running a business in Tupi, South Cotabato is a privilege. We view the community in our immediate vicinity as a prime stakeholder in our growth. Our workforce, raw materials, and other needs are locally sourced from families and businesses in South Cotabato. Guided by our core values, we take it as our responsibility to provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to the community that hosts our enterprise. In addition to the job opportunities that our operation generates, we offer local coconut farmers support and training to optimize their yield and earning opportunities through more favorable and Fair Trade arrangements for their produce. At RSAI, we take the matter of uplifting the lives of the community around us very seriously."
2019 Project Overview: Improving Soil Fertility and Crop Yield
The 2019 CDP project of Roxas Sigma was the introduction of soil inputs to improve soil fertility and increase the yield of coconuts by planting and cultivating mucuna bracteata, a nitrogen fixing cover crop. Replanting this leguminous plant in the coconut farms, while also adding natural soil amendments greatly benefits the trees productivity.
The first amendment is the application of SEB2 which contains 14 macro and micronutrients needed by the plants. Second, application of SER3, this contains 12 races of fungi that improves absorption of nutrients by plants. The fungi live just outside the root hairs, when SER 3 is applied, absorbing from its own immediate environment water, P, K, Mg, Cu and other minerals. The fungi can also prevent root infection by pathogens and increase the plant tolerance to drought Lastly, application of coconut husk compost (SED4) which is rich in phosphorus, the nutrient responsible for fruiting. These additions are a one-time application with life-long benefits. Together they replace 60-85% of the recommended inorganic fertilizer that the plant needs to maximize production.
During the planting of mucuna, soil organic amendments were also be introduced to the farms. In the Philippines, the normal fruit of a coconut tree is 60 nuts per tree. With this project, it was expected that the 15 selected farmers will have a 25% greater yield after the soil amendments. Unfortunately, drought and other difficulties did not allow this project to be widely successful. So, a different method to improve the crops was decided on for 2020.
2020: Salt Fertilization Program
Roxas Sigma decided to go with a more direct soil amendment program that would not be at the mercy of droughts and inclement situations. Salt (Sodium Chloride) or common salt as fertilizer is a very affordable and practical means of increasing coconut production. The beneficial role of salt is to accelerate the growth and development of the coconut trees. As survey conducted nationwide showed that at least 40 provinces are severely chlorine deficient. Salt ends up primarily increasing the amount of white meat in the coconuts, thus potentially increasing the raw cream. It also makes the coconut more resistant to drought, pest, and diseases. This application can increase harvest by 15 to 20 nuts per year. Furthermore, coconut white meats expected to thicken means heavier nuts are harvestable. In monetary value, heavier nuts and more nuts per tree means more money to the pocket of the farmers. As Roxas Sigma production level start to rise, farmers will really benefit from the increase of coconut quality proposed by this project. There are 2 provinces targeted beneficiaries for this program, Sarangani and South Cotabato.
The first step of this project is the preliminary farm assessment to conduct farm preliminary assessments of the productivity and soil of each farm. Second is procurement and inventory of agricultural grade salt, which is available locally within the region. Upon aquision of the salts, around 60,000 kilograms will be distributed. 300 hectares will receive the salt. Roxas Sigma will provide a short refresher course on how to apply the salt to the field for the farmers. Once orientation is completed, a schedule of delivery of the salt will be implemented. Additionally, in compliance with FairTSA, the beneficiaries are covered for personal protection. Gloves and boots will be distributed to each farmer. Application to the farm will be managed by the farmer in tandem with RSAI. The farmers will provide the labor while RSAI will oversee the application techniques. Lastly, to ensure efficacy of salt, sample nut count and nut weight will be collected per beneficiary. This data will be compared to the nut count and nut weight after 12 months once the flowers become harvestable coconuts. We look forward to the results in 2021!