AXELUM Resources Corp. has obtained certification from nonprofit association Fairtrade International as part of efforts to boost its social programs for local coconut farmers.

The listed coconut product manufacturer and exporter said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that 1,000 farmers are currently enrolled in its Fairtrade program, grouped into nine clusters in the towns of Medina, Magsaysay, Salay, Talisayan, and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, and covers 2,300 hectares of organic coconut farms.

Axelum said Fairtrade encourages a global system that links farmers and workers from developing nations with consumers and businesses across the globe to change for the better.

“Our core values are aligned with Fairtrade’s mission of bridging producers and businesses across the globe, who share a common belief in espousing equitable and sustainable livelihood, empowering marginalized producers to overcome poverty and build towards a brighter future,” Axelum Chairman and CEO Romeo I. Chan said in the disclosure.

According to Axelum, it launched its Fairtrade program in 2019 for the benefit of local coconut farmers and as part of expanding its sustainability development platform.

The company said Fairtrade-certified companies face rigorous and independent audit screenings that comply with the ISEAL Assurance Code, an international code for sustainability standards.

Highlights of the Fairtrade system includes the setting of a “Fairtrade Minimum Price,” which indicates the base amount that producers are paid when selling their products under Fairtrade, and the “Fairtrade Premium,” which is extra money paid aside from the selling price that is used to fund cluster-initiated projects.

“In coordination with the Axelum Fairtrade Team, each cluster conducts a thorough needs assessment study through a structured and collaborative exercise,” the company said.

“Initially, majority of clusters identified priority issues related to food supply, medicines, educational assistance, alternative livelihood and organic farming. As such, a portion of the Fairtrade Premium budget was deployed to support consolidated efforts to address these concerns,” it added.

Axelum said that the “Fairtrade Premium” initiative and the entire program are audited by an external auditor appointed by Fairtrade, together with a separate audit done by the company’s internal audit department.

Currently, the company said it is working with a multinational consumer giant for its desiccated coconut products under Fairtrade prices.

As part of Fairtrade terms, Axelum is allotting a portion of the money from each sold product as “Fairtrade Premium,” which is deposited in an independent bank account accessible to farmer clusters.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chan said the company is committed to initiatives that promote social welfare towards farming communities.

“With this certification, our customers can be assured that our products are backed by a supply chain that strongly adheres to the highest ethical principles, providing a conducive sustainable working environment that is free of exploitative labor and abuse of natural resources,” Mr. Chan said.

During the first quarter, Axelum posted a 20.4% increase in its net income to P145.60 million resulting from higher sales. Its net sales for the period increased 22.5% to P1.47 billion.

On Wednesday, shares of Axelum at the stock exchange ended flat at P3 per share. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave