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Naturland–based and founded in Germany in 1982–is one of the leading farmer associations and certifiers for organic agriculture in the world, uniting 70,000 farmers, gardeners, beekeepers, fish farmers and fishers in 60 countries. In the Philippines, more than 3,000 farmers belong to the Naturland community. For almost 40 years now, Naturland has been pioneering the development of organic, social and fair food chains worldwide, combining one of the strictest private standards for organic production with a quality assurance system ensuring the highest degree of organic integrity.
ECHOstore said it will start selling Naturland-certified organic products following the forging of a partnership between the two sustainable lifestyle entities that seek to boost organic farming in the country.
The company said it has partnered with Naturland, a Germany-based farmers association and organic agriculture certifier, with the former becoming the first store in the country to sell products certified by Naturland.
The products that would be first sold at the ECHOstore are virgin coconut oil, turmeric powder and tea from Davao, and muscovado sugar from Negros.
“Although having offered food products for some time now, we decided to replace them step by step by Naturland certified organic products to provide orientation for customers in this crowded market of natural and organic products,” ECHOstore Founder Pacita U. Juan said in a statement.
Juan, who has been an advocate for organic products for 15 years, said Naturland’s organic certification standards “go clearly beyond government requirements.”
Juan said ECHOstore has dedicated a special section in its online store for Naturland certified organic products. She added that the products would also be available in the company’s physical store in Makati.
Naturland International Development Manager Marco Schlueter said the partnership would “help boost organic farming in the Philippines and to create better livelihoods” for smallholder farmers.
“We partnered with ECHOstore because of their long-standing commitment to the organic movement,” Schlueter said.
“Moreover, in the midst of the worldwide Covid-19 crisis our more than 3,000 Naturland farmers in the Philippines can thus find new market opportunities. With ECHOstore they can now also sell their produce in the local market, additionally to their overseas exports.”
Organic is often used interchangeably with other concepts and terms like ‘natural farming,’ making it confusing for consumers to identify the food that they are getting. To distinguish which food is clean, fair, certified, and safe in the market, one must know what organic means.
Marco Schlüter, Head of Strategy and International affairs of Naturland, one of the leading farmer associations and certifiers for organic agriculture in the world, discussed this topic during the launch of their partnership with ECHOstore, a local store that promotes organic and sustainable products that advocates in nurturing and sustaining the self, the community, and the planet.
Making organic the norm and not the alternative
Pacita ‘Chit’ Juan, an organic advocate and founder of ECHOstore, defines organic saying that, if something isn’t grown in soil then, it is probably not organic. She adds that organic farming means producing natural food not only for humans, but also for insects and bees. Most importantly, organic means clean and fair food— clean from pesticides and harmful chemicals and fair to farmers and food producers.
At ECHOstore, they always see to it that the farm where they source their organic products does not use any pesticides and chemicals. Juan said their partnership with Naturland will help monitor if the right processes based on the standards are well-implemented.
ECHOstore will be the first shop in the Philippines where Naturland-labeled products will be available. These include Naturland-certified products like Mascobado Sugar of Alter Trade and Peter Paul’s Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). To identify the Naturland-certified products in the Philippines, consumers must find their trademark logo and labels.
Organic means certified
Anything organic requires certification, unlike natural farming that has no clear standards and protection by a legal framework. As per Schlüter, Naturland ensures that all their farmers and products are certified and abide by their private standards that go beyond government qualifications. In getting an organic certification in the Philippines, Schlüter points out that the government requires a minimum level of organic agricultural production accompanied by yearly inspections and certification by independent control bodies.
Now more than ever, everyone is looking for safe and clean food. Today is a high time in promoting and spreading awareness about organic products and methods for they have great potential in the Philippine market and economy.