Echostore, Naturland join forces to help PH embrace organic goods
Local sustainability champion Echostore and international farmer association Naturland have embarked on a new partnership to make organic agriculture in the Philippines the norm rather than the alternative.
The country is ripe for the shift, said Echostore co-founder Chit Juan, as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to take a closer look at what they eat.
“Right now, everyone is a bit scared. People are cooking at home, people are choosing food that they know the traceability of. There is a very big opportunity for organic food to come out in the open as a standard on how to get clean food,” she said.
Since 2008, Echostore has brought into the market organic products spanning food, cooking and baking needs, beauty and wellness items, stationery supplies, and essential home products.
It has been granted a Naturland certification—which ranks among the highest global organic standards—ensuring its customers that the products were created with the entire value chain in mind—from production, postharvest, marketing and packaging, sustainability and ethics were followed to the letter.
While grocery shelves are already teeming with items labeled “organic,” Naturland international development manager Marco Schlüter pointed out during a recent online meeting that the concept remains murky to a lot of Filipinos.
Just because a product is labeled organic doesn’t mean it really is.
“Organic agriculture is a holistic production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people,” Schlüter said. “The first time I went to the Philippines a few years ago, I learned that organic farming data is hard to find … There is a market but orientation is needed,” he said. “When people think of organic, they think about not using pesticides and chemicals. They think of animals that live on the farm and where there is a natural food for insects,” Juan said. “But organic isn’t just that. It’s about clean and fair food.”
By fair, this means farmers are able to lead a dignified life through agriculture, and ecosystems are preserved through safe and natural practices.
This is the blueprint that Echostore and Naturland are creating for the long haul—one where food production wouldn’t compromise social justice, health and the environment.
Educating stakeholders about the real value of organic farming is one step. Currently, Naturland and Echostore are working with over 3,000 farmers who are taught to work at a higher standard. They are now part of the 79,000-strong partners of Naturland in 60 countries.
Schlüter notes that the Philippines is an emerging market for real organic products.
“The Philippines’ middle class is increasing so more people are becoming more interested in food. More people are looking into healthy products and a lot are turning into vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. There are a lot of opportunities,” he said.