Is cocodiesel the answer for Pinoy coconut farmers?

The Philippines is one of the largest coconut producers in the world. However, Filipino coconut farmers are still trying to make ends meet and provide the day-to-day needs of their families.

Meanwhile, fuel giant Shell continues to proactively engage in sustainability efforts that generate cleaner and more efficient energy such as biofuel and is involved in social investment projects that create sustainable livelihood for communities.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., through its social arm, Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc., recently piloted Project COCONUT, an energy and livelihood sustainability project in Lucena, Quezon Province.

“Project COCONUT is about creating more environmentally sustainable fuels for the Philippines and more sustainable livelihood for coconut farmers by providing increased livelihood opportunities so that more Filipinos are able to provide adequately for their families,” says Edgar Veron Cruz, executive director of PSFI.

Present for the Project COCONUT agreement signing in Lucena, Quezon are (from left) Helen Scholey, Shell International’s Biofuels Sustainability Compliance officer; Edgar Veron Cruz, executive director of Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc.; and Rolando T. Jao, chairman of JNJ Group. The partnership behind Project COCONUT is optimistic in its future expansion to more communities within and outside Lucena. 
COllaboration for COconut Productivity and NUrturing Farmers’ Trade (COCONUT) Sustainable Livelihood Program is Shell’s initiative in partnership with JNJ Group to help improve the lives of coconut farmers and increase their income by maximizing opportunities for livelihood. 

The project aims to address the needs of the coconut farmers by helping organize a local coconut farmer cooperative, conducting seminars in managing coconut farms to improve their yield, and setting up trainings for sustainable income opportunities in processing coconut products such as handicrafts, jewelry and furniture.

Through Project COCONUT, sustainable supply of Coco Methyl Ester (CME) as well as sustainable livelihood for farmers are made possible not only through Shell’s purchase of biofuel raw materials but also through supporting the community.

The pilot sites for the project are Unisan and Agdangan in Quezon Province, where a project survey shows about 50 percent of coconut farmers are relying exclusively on coconut farming, and within the 30-45 day intervals of their harvests, about 86 percent are operating below minimum wage. Additionally, 66 percent are farming below 6 hectares of land, most of which are tenants or non-owners of the land they farm.

“Project COCONUT is an expansion of Shell’s previous initiatives for cleaner energy through biofuels while providing sustainable livelihood to coconut farmers. We continue to comply with government regulations regarding biofuels and have actively sought to find the mix that best serves the Philippines,” Helen Scholey, Shell International’s Biofuels Sustainability Compliance Officer, pointed out during the MOA Signing event last June 6.

Providing for the energy needs of the Philippines is a multi-faceted challenge; affordability is an important factor, but so is environmental sustainability and livelihood sustainability, which are the key focuses of the project. 

This makes Project COCONUT timely and important as it helps the country environmentally and financially in its ever more complex requirement in energy and livelihood.

Shell was one of the first energy companies to invest in making advanced biofuels from alternative agricultural products and continues to invest in new ways to produce biofuels from sustainable sources.

On a global perspective, Shell produces one of the lowest-CO2 biofuels available today through its joint venture Raízen, which makes ethanol from sugar cane in Brazil. Brazilian sugarcane ethanol can reduce CO2 emissions by around 70 percent compared with conventional petrol. Raízen ranks as one of the world’s largest producers of biofuels.

Shell is also one of the largest blenders and distributers of biofuels worldwide. Shell purchases biofuels that are produced in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible to blend into its fuels in line with country specific regulations. 

Shell also supports the adoption of international sustainability standards such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials and the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme.

Through Project COCONUT, Shell sustainably supports local communities and further supports its commitment to reduce global warming by reducing the Net Carbon Footprint not just with reducing emission from its own operations but also in changing the mix of products sold to customers. 

This project is another step towards energy transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, more affordable, and sustainable energy to meet the growing energy demand in the Philippines and worldwide.

Topics: cocodiesel , Filipino coconut farmers , Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. , Project COCONUT
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