In Praise of Preda Fair Trade Dried Mangoes

Fr. Shay Cullen

There was great happiness in the villages of the Zambales and Mindanao mountains this year- the mango trees produced an abundance of mango fruit. The small-scale Filipino farmers and indigenous people were delighted. Happy, beaming farmers brought their crates of mangoes to the Preda Center where they were weighed, sorted and tagged and the farmers were paid a high price for their fruit. In Mindanao, the harvest was also good. The farmers in the Preda association of mango growers brought tons of fruit to the processing plant for Preda.

It has been three years without a mango harvest in the mountains of Zambales and low mango yields in Mindanao. Both areas have unique sensitive climates. They had been badly affected due to the drastic changes in the world climate and global warming caused by emissions of CO2 gases.

The farmers supply their mango fruit to the Preda Fair Trade project which delivers the famous Preda dried mango and mango puree products to the World Shops and supermarkets in European countries, Japan and Korea. They love them because the Preda puree products and dried mango slices are unique. They are different in taste and are of very high quality. Once the customer tastes them, they want more. That is the success of the Preda dried mango. All others taste artificial from many additives.

The Preda mangos are processed without any added chemicals, artificial coloring, preservatives or other ingredients. They have a wonderful natural sweet taste and are healthy nutritious snacks important for children and adults when we are all striving to avoid the commercial snacks that are so dangerous to our health.

The Preda mangoes are very special and they are produced to fair trade standards. There is guaranteed no child labor, exploitation, no pesticides or toxic fertilizers used and fair trade prices are paid to the farmers. Besides, any earnings from the sales are donated by Preda to support needy children in the Preda-run homes for abused children.

The mangoes that are processed into mango puree are certified as organic by an international certification group because they meet the strict inspections and verifications of a clean and chemically-free mountain environment.

In Davao province, Mindanao 127 small farmers in remote areas care for over a thousand mango trees scattered across the hilly country. Last month, Donard Angeles, the Preda coordinator, went to these villages and ingeniously loaded school supplies, bags, notebooks, pens, and pencils on a hired motorcycle and distributed them to hundreds of school children of the farmers.

Besides paying the farmers a generous bonus for their deliveries of mangos, the harvest of one big mango tree will also support a child in school for one year. This keeps teenagers from going to the city where they could become victims of human trafficking. The women are the empowered leaders and manage the money in their families. They start small businesses.

Josie has four children and with her husband care for about 50 mango trees. She used her bonus for one year to start a small village store. It supplies many needs of the villagers and she is prospering. Michelle bought a sow and started pig-raising She and her family are doing very well. Most of the farmers are now free from dire poverty as a result of the livelihood that came from the sale of dried mangoes.

The growing and supply of Preda dried mangoes distributed by our dedicated partners has helped to provide funds for the supply of village communal toilets and water wells and hand pumps in the remote villages of the Aeta indigenous people. These are subsistence farmers. Their ancestral rainforests were cut down and the trees shipped to Europe and Japan to help rebuild those countries after World War II.

They turned to hill farming of vegetables and root crops but they did not earn any money from harvesting and selling the pico mangoes that grew in abundance but are not commercially in demand, unlike the popular carabao mangoes. When Preda and our partner in Germany experimented in processing the pico mango, it was a success and the taste is excellent. Since it is grown high in the hills and mountains where there is no chemical farming, organic certification became a possibility.

After three years of organizing and holding seminars for the mountain farmers and training local inspectors and meeting the many bureaucratic requirements, we applied for organic certification. After many visits by international experts in organic certification and local inspectors, the mangoes were finally approved as organic, a great success indeed.

Every year, there is an inspection by the certification body to see all standards are maintained. Even when there were no harvests, they had to be inspected. This year, they passed and qualified as meeting the strict organic standards. This is a big success for indigenous people in remote areas with little access to education.

There are 414 in the program. The latest Preda Fair Trade action now is the planting of trees all over the mountains including 3,958 mango saplings of carabao variety, which produce a favored variety of fruit that is of higher value. For every three packets of dried mangos bought, we can plant another mango sapling. That is helping to reforest the denuded hills, absorb CO2 and prevent global warming.

This is a great way by which people can offset their CO2 footprint. Also, buying Preda dried mango helps farmers and children since we donate a percentage of earnings to the children’s homes. Preda dried mango is a fair trade, healthy food that helps many people including the consumer.

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