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HomePublic LifeFrom bananas to building communities: alternative traders across Asia to meet in...

From bananas to building communities: alternative traders across Asia to meet in Talisay City

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BACOLOD CITY – Delegates from eight countries across Asia will meet in the neighboring city of Talisay tomorrow to discuss economic challenges being faced by marginalized folk and to build on the gains of alternative trading that started in Negros in the late 80s.

Children in a Negros hacienda wait for rice to cook in a dirty kitchen in the town of Murcia in 2012. The desperate condition of children in the 80s was what sparked alternative people-to-people trading between Japan and the Alter Trade Corporation in the Philippines. | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
Children in a Negros hacienda wait for rice to cook in a dirty kitchen in the town of Murcia in 2012. The desperate condition of children in the 80s was what sparked alternative people-to-people trading between Japan and the Alter Trade Corporation in the Philippines. | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

As the Asian People’s Fund for Mutual Benefit (APF) marks its 10th year, Asian delegates from Japan, South Korea, Nepal, East Timor, and the Philippines, and Palestine in the Middle East, will gather in the island where alternative trading in the region first started.

Alter Trade Philippines, this year’s host, is the first non-government organization in Asia to engage workers’ cooperatives in people-to-people trading by exporting balangon bananas to Japan at the peak of the sugar industry crisis in the 80s.

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Ariel Guides, president of the Altertrade Philippines Foundation for Food Sovereignty, Inc. (ATPF), told DNX that APF has already extended its services to eight countries in Asia and is “slowly realizing its vision.”

Guides said “APF is composed of big cooperatives in Japan and Korea under the auspices of Alter Trade Japan and PT Coop of Korea, (with) general headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.”

Among the latest developments is the partnering of Korean and Japanese consumers to “improve and increase its support services as well as financial assistance to various marginal and deprived producers in Asia.”

Among them are Palestinians who produce “the best olive oil” in the world, women cooperatives in Nepal who are experts in handicrafts making, civil war victims of East Timor who produce coffee, “and the marginal agrarian reform beneficiaries and marginal farmers of Negros in the Philippines who grow sugarcane and banana.”

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Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

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