Multinational oil giant Shell’s Filipino subsidiary Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc (PSFI) has signed a collaboration agreement with JNJ Oil Industries to fund a sustainability programme looking to boost the livelihoods of 150 coconut farmers.

The US$150,000 of funding would go to the Collaboration for Coconut Productivity and Nurturing Farmers’ Trade (Coconut) Sustainable Livelihood Program – or Project Coconut – managed by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Crop (PSPC), reported BusinessMirror on 6 June.

“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,” said PSFI CEO Edgar Veron Cruz.

The initiative was mainly aimed at securing the supply of coconut methyl ester (CME) for JNJ, which used it as a biodiesel component, said BusinessMirror.

The company already supplied an average of 1.5M litres of CME to PSPC through its oleochemical plant and it hoped the sustainability programme would help it increase the supply.

The contributing farmers would, in return, have Shell as a guaranteed buyer for their product, which the companies said would improve livelihoods and support the needs of the farming communities.

The farmer beneficiaries would also receive technical and entrepreneurship training and farming tools.

Project Coconut’s trial sites were selected based on a survey that showed that approximately 50% of farmers in the municipalities of Unisan and Agdangan relied solely on coconut farming and that 86% were earning less than the Filipino minimum wage between their harvests every 30-45 days.

In addition, 66% of the farmers had less than 6ha of land and most did not own the land they farmed.