Siningang, nearly every Filipino’s favorite, has been made more convenient to make with the advent of tamarind powder. But behind every easy “asim-kililg” experience at home, a local farmer benefits from a sustainable livelihood.
“The tamarind tree sustains us. It provides food for my family — we can buy rice, fish, or bread. The tamarind tree gives us livelihood,” shares Alexander Dagos, a farmer from Lobo, Batangas.
Alexander is among the farmer-beneficiaries of Unilever Philippines’ partnership with local farming communities in adherence to its commitment to Sustainable Agriculture. This commitment has driven the company to ensure sustainability in its supply chain, including sourcing for raw materials.
Since it began producing tamarind powder from real tamarind in the 80’s, Unilever Philippines continues to work with local farmers, providing them with sustainable livelihood not only by purchasing produce but also through skills-capacity training to help improve farming practices.
“We provide trainings to farmers on how to keep resource inputs low while producing crops with high yield and natural quality. These skills-capacity building are also beneficial in ensuring that farming practices have little impact on soil fertility, water and air quality, and biodiversity,” explains Ed Sunico, Unilever VP Communication – SEA.
Sustainable Agriculture warrants commitment to having a positive contribution to the company’s value chain, including the consumers utilizing the products. To aid with this, Unilever has also implemented an information-education initiative to help consumers prepare nutritious and delicious meals and at the same time aid in decreasing incidences of undernutrition in the country.
Through the “Knorr Lutong Nanay Program”, the company intends to empower every Nanay to take charge of their family’s nutrition through home-cooked meals.
“The first thing I learned from the nutrition program is budgeting. I hope that mothers like me can learn how to cook food that, even on a budget, even if it’s cheap, can really satisfy their nutritional needs, ” shares Ayako Dela Serna.
For 19 years, the program has been educating families on nutritious eating and food preparation through a 21-day nutrition plan.
“Aside from budgeting, I am very thankful because I now cook healthy meals unlike before when I always cooked fried food. I’ve learned how to cook vegetables. When I got married I didn’t know how to cook. Now with Knorr, my husband says that Knorr has helped you a lot because you now know how to cook. They find my cooking delicious,” shares Knorr Nutri-Sarap momRoshel Barile.
The program continues to be implemented even amid the pandemic. Unilever has partnered with a local TV network in 2020 for the first ever nutrition-themed edutainment program for kids—the ‘Makulay ang Buhay’ show.
For over a decade, Unilever Philippines has been committed to Sustainable Agriculture and has laid out 11 social, economic, and environmental indicators which include soil health, soil loss, nutrients, pest management, biodiversity, farm economics, energy, water, social and human capital, local economy, and animal welfare.
But without making sure that the environment keeps up, these efforts may not be as impactful. The world has seen how health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected food and agriculture, causing major disruption in the food systems. This is why the company is adding another layer of commitment to sustainability — Regenerative Agriculture.
“As one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world, with a large Foods & Refreshment portfolio, we want to make a huge impact through our scale and reach. We can help to redesign the global food system to one that provides affordable, quality nutrition, with plenty of plant-based choices, cutting waste, and promoting sustainable agriculture,” shared Ed Sunico, Unilever’s VP for Communication SEA and Head of Sustainable Business and Communication of PH.
There are five priority areas for Unilever’s Regenerative Agriculture Principles which include (1) soil health, (2) water and (3) air quality, (4) carbon capture, and (5) biodiversity. For the next decade it intends to promote agricultural practices that have positive impacts on the five priority areas, enable communities to protect and improve their environment as well as well-being, help farmers to keep resource inputs as low as possible while producing crops with sufficient yield and nutritional quality, and optimize the use of renewable resources while minimizing the use of non-renewable resources.
Unilever Philippines commits to translate these principles into local actions in the next decade. As it continues to implement its programs on Sustainable Agriculture, it plans to further work with more local farming communities to implement regenerative farming practices, going beyond the boundaries of the field or farm where raw materials are grown.