Issue of October 23, 2011
     
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Firm’s environmental program gets int’l trade recognition
by Liza Agoot

Coordinated partnership by the different sectors is proving to be an effective tool towards the success of any activity.

From a mere corporate social responsibility, which the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation has implemented together with the local government unit and the community, its success has been recognized and lauded as the Corporate Responsibility Program of the Year award in the 2011  International Business Awards for Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The environmental project of PMFTC Inc. for tobacco farmers in Northern Luzon won the prestigious and much coveted award, which was boosted in 2008 when PMFTC partnered with farmers in La Union and Ilocos Sur, and with JVOF to organize and strengthen local cooperatives through livelihood programs and the establishment of fuel wood plantations. The seed of its environment project started in 2001 when PMFTC embarked on a massive reforestation program that involved its leaf suppliers, non-government organizations, and public schools in the Ilocos region and other parts of the country.

One component of the project is the training of farmers on how to manage the plantations, enabling it to expand and sustain itself. The International Business Awards, more popularly known as the Stevie Awards, is a global, all-encompassing business awards program honoring great performances in business. PMFTC’s “Reforestation through cooperative organizing and capability building for tobacco farmers” bested more than 3,000 entries from 40 countries. “Belonging to the winners’ circle is a major feat for us,” said PMFTC president Chris Nelson. “It means we are on the right track with our multi-faceted Embrace program.”

Embrace represents the company’s contributions in education, environment, livelihood, health, and disaster relief.

Nelson also said that fuel sources are important to its business because tobacco industry is dependent on the availability of fuel wood and bamboo to cure tobacco leaves, which is a major product in the Ilocos region.

From a small project, PMFTC then decided to broaden its reforestation project establishing eight fuel wood plantations in the towns of Santol, Sudipen, and Bangar in La Union; and San Emilio, San Juan, Sta. Cruz, Lidlidda, and Banayoyo, all in Ilocos Sur. It also added four bamboo plantations in Cagayan province.

Since its establishment, the project has spawned 12 other cooperatives across the area. One cooperative, the Barangay Corro-oy Farmers Cooperative of Santol town in the province of La Union, was named model client for 2010 by JVOF for its sustainable management of fuel wood plantation. The group now has 10 hectares of barren mountain land planted with various trees.

Nelson said the project was conceptualized in recognition of the company’s social obligation to contribute to environmental protection efforts.

“I am delighted with this accomplishment. It validates our company’s unfailing advocacy to support the communities,” Nelson said.

Stevie is a Greek word meaning “crowned,” the award was presented to honorees at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The PMFTC’s reforestation project is one of the many community based programs that the foundation is implementing with the community, empowering them to become sufficient and united in a common purpose of uplifting the lives of the members of the community.


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