Working with smallholders for sustainable sugarcane production in the Philippines
In Negros Occidental, Philippines, our Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders (RSS) programme is a landscape initiative aiming to enhance farming practices and working conditions for small farmers, as well as improving their capacity and access to training about sustainable sugarcane production.
The work draws on the RSS framework we developed as part of the SHARP Partnership. It’s funded by Nestlé and American Sugar Refining (ASR), and is coordinated by SIFI, the Philippine Sugar Industry Foundation.
Since its launch in 2016, the RSS programme has reached 4,000 farmers, working directly with farmer associations to offer technical support and capacity building. Smallholder farmers have been trained on sustainable cultivation practices, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and techniques to improve yield and productivity, including monitoring soil fertility. The programme has also distributed over 3,000 PPE kits to working farmers.
Community engagement has also raised awareness of child rights and introduced alternative livelihood options, such as selling rice and organic vegetable farming, with business planning training and seed funding provided to farmers. Responding to anecdotal evidence of increased presence of children in farms due to worker shortages and school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, activities were developed for farming communities with a particular focus on child rights and child labour, as well as awareness-raising about Covid-19. Activities for families included sessions on vegetable gardening, poster competitions, composting and cleaning neighbourhoods, aiming to provide children with opportunities to learn about sustainability.