Coconut, also known as the “tree of life” is one of the most important crops in the Philippines with the country being the second largest producer in the world.
Edwin Abay-Abay, or “Nong Edwin” as we call him, is one of our smallholder farmers based in Tupi, South Cotabato, and is one of Roxas Sigma Agriventures, Inc’s trusted and reliable suppliers of organic coconuts since the company’s establishment in 2017.
Nong Edwin is a 53 year old farmer for over a decade now. He was a seaman in 1994 before settling down in Tupi as a full-time organic coconut farmer back in 2008 with his wife Mehida, who once worked with him on the field, before working as a teacher. He and his wife are blessed with five wonderful children.
Nong Edwin like any other farmers are struggling due to low prices, lack of assistance from the government, and competition from other products like copra and palm oil. The COVID-19 pandemic, also isolated some of them who are living in far-flung areas.
Nong Edwin admits that life is full of challenges, especially in this pandemic situation, but he needs to work hard in his farm to be able to provide for his family.
Education is offered free in the municipality of Tupi, so locals have no problem sending their children to school as this is a long-term program offered by the local government. With Roxas Sigma’s establishment, it provided a main source of sustainable income for their livelihood.
All his business partnerships had a rough beginning even with Roxas Sigma. It wasn’t easy, but he believes in the success of all the companies he serves. He mentioned it was a considerable development for Tupi’s farming community to have Roxas Sigma as one of their clients. It started providing a steady income for all farmers and other laborers around the area. “Ang trabaho dito (sa Tupi) mahirap eh. Malaking tulong sa mga tiga rito rin sa samin, sa labor, mga ganun ba. Kumbaga kung wala naman ‘yung planta, ang produkto namin dito sa Tupi, dadalhin ‘dun sa ano (ibang lugar). Sila (laborers sa ibang bayan) ngayon ang makikinabang doon. Nakatulong talaga sa bayan ng Tupi ang Roxas Sigma.”
Nong Edwin adds that serving his coconuts to Roxas Sigma lessened the costs of trucking services. Before, it will cost them forty to sixty centavos per kilo of coconuts going to General Santos City or Davao City. “Wala naman inaano ‘yung planta (ng Roxas Sigma) kung malaki yung truck mo o maliit yung truck mo, basta madala lang doon sa kanila (Roxas Sigma). Hindi na kami gagastos gastos. Pinili rin namin dito. Dati doon kami (GenSan or Davao) kasi wala naman kaming pagbebentahan dito sa produkto namin. Mapilitan talaga kaming dalhin doon. Mas may expenses ka kasi pag malayo. Pero pag nandito na, dito na ma-process, nakatulong pa sa tiga rito, naka-save ka pa sa expenses mo.”
Currently, Nong Edwin is leading a group of farmers in Brgy Poblacion, Tupi, South Cotabato. Together, they help nurture the source of Roxas Sigma’s organic raw materials as they look forward to more business opportunities with the company and wish nothing but continuous production of Roxas Sigma Agriventures, Inc’s 100% Pure Coconut Products.
Roxas Sigma Agriventures, Inc’s Fair-Trade arrangement with its farmers help improve soil fertility and increase the yield of coconuts they harvest. The company does this by providing them training and technologies that help them do it organically.
Roxas Sigma is grateful to Nong Edwin and the group of farmers who have been unrelenting in their support of our company. They will always be a major pillar in our continuous progress and success! They are not just our business partners; they are part of our family!