Life is tough for most coconut sugar farmers. Despite their hard labor, most are still mired in poverty and hopelessly tangled in the traditional 'sistem ijon' where middlemen 'buy' the crop from the farmer at at a locked-in low price while the crop is still green/young. Small farmers are easily exploited because they usually don't have direct access to the market and have to rely on these middlemen to sell their crop. This system inevitably brings the big profits of the harvest only to the middlemen. The lack of improvement in quality also makes it very difficult for their coconut sugar to compete in better markets.
As our name indicates, PMA is not just a distributor, but we are here as a true partner of the local farmers. We always try to integrate the local farmer cooperatives in our effort in developing both the natural and human resources. Beyond seeing this as merely a business opportunity, PMA takes this on as part of our responsibility to help these farmers. We aim to shorten the 'market chain' for these small farmers and to showcase their organic products on the global scene.
Our enterprise also includes some international partners. For the coconut sugar farmers project, PMA has been partnering with Public Private Partnership (PPP: a project by the German government and private sector). The programs and funding by PPP are aimed to improve product quality by updating the processing technology and to improve the farmer's socio-economic condition through Fairtrade certification.
Programs by PPP focus on biodiversity, sustainable nursery (seedlings), human and natural resources development, upgrading the processing technology and Fairtrade certification. Especially on the Fairtrade certification, PMA, the farmers cooperative and the farmers union have earned the certification from FLO. This is significant because it's an acknowledgement from an international body that our 'fair trade' and open business practices do not disadvantage any party. In short, a Fairtrade certification proves that the farmers' rights, their socio-economic condition and their human dignity are being upheld — an achievement that's in line with one of PMA's founding principles: improving the welfare of the local farmers.
In addition to earning the Fairtrade certification from FLO and the Organic certification from Ecocert, PMA's Organic Coconut Sugar has also gained other international certifications from Kosher, HACCP, SMETA and BioSuisse. In 2018, we aim to get a BRC Food Safety System certification.