Here’s an opportunity to volunteer for two weeks in the Philippines to work closely with a small-scale processor of food-grade desiccated coconut and to provide better opportunities to smallholder farmers. The volunteer will facilitate the evaluation of capacities and make recommendations on food processing quality and safety. The program has a small budget to cover airfare, local accommodation and transportation for the two week duration. To apply, please go to: https://grameenfound.secure.force.com/projectview?id=a0O2K00000McARD
CocoAsenso (CA) is a social enterprise that is improving livelihoods and efficiency in the coconut sector by decentralizing high-value coconut processing to remote, rural areas. The recent explosion in the market for high-value coconut products presents major opportunities for improving the livelihoods of the nine million coconut-dependent Filipinos who live below the poverty line. However, these products are generally produced in large-scale factories located in industrialized regions of the country. Therefore, the poorest coconut farmers, who live in remote regions, are excluded from high-value market opportunities.
One of the most important high-value coconut products is virgin coconut oil (VCO). This oil is produced through a two-stage process where coconut meat is first dried into desiccated coconut (DC) and then the DC is processed into VCO. Currently, both stages are conducted almost entirely in large-scale factories. These factories require good infrastructure and therefore tend to be clustered in the more industrialized regions of the country. This results in high raw material costs due to the difficulty of accessing heavy and bulky coconuts from farmers who are dispersed across the 7,000 islands of the Philippines.
CA has developed a business model that allows it to efficiently produce high quality DC in rural, small-scale factories. CA purchases coconuts directly from local farmers; hires local community members to process the coconuts into DC using efficient, custom-designed technology; and then sells the DC to large-scale VCO manufacturers for less than they can produce it themselves (enabled by lower coconut, transportation and labor costs).
CA began operating its pilot factory in March 2018. The facility processes 5,000 coconuts per day, which are sourced from over 200 partner farmers. In the coming years, CA plans to establish a network of these processing centers throughout the Philippines.
Desiccated coconut is traditionally produced in large-scale factories, many of which process over 500,000 coconuts per day. CocoAsenso’s (CA) decentralized production model requires factories that are designed to process 5,000 to 10,000 coconuts per day. This production model offers important advantages with regard to social impact and cost savings. However, this model requires a great deal of technical and process innovation to ensure that product quality is on-par with large-scale manufacturers. As far as CA is aware, they are the only small-scale manufacturer of food-grade desiccated coconut in the Philippines. This means that CA has had to develop much of its own production technologies and processes.
CA is constantly working to improve product quality by improving its processing facility and standard operating procedures. While members of CA’s management team have engineering and science backgrounds, CA does not currently have any food production or safety expert on its team. CA, as well as the farmers and employees associated with the company, would greatly benefit from food safety and/or manufacturing expert who could review CA’s current operations and suggest practical ideas that could improve product quality and food safety.
The volunteer will conduct evaluation activities to determine operational capacity of CocoAsenso. The results will allow the volunteer to train key persons of CocoAsenso best practices on food safety and quality and sustainable operations.
222 number of direct beneficiaries
5 number of management team (5 male and 0 female)
32 number of staff (21 number of male and 11 female)
185 coconut farmers
Volunteer reviews the operating procedures of CocoAsenso and any relevant documents related to product processing. A copy of the operating procedure will be sent via email by CA before on-ground deployment.
Conduct processing facility inspection
Evaluate CocoAsenso’s operations in food safety and product quality
Assessment of CocoAsenso’s processing facility and operating procedures
Provide recommendations and training that could improve product quality and food safety at CocoAsenso’s existing pilot facility and future facilities that CocoAsenso plans to establish.
Recommendations for improving product quality and food safety.
We encourage all F2F volunteers to participate in public outreach. Volunteers should post a photo, video, or text related to the F2F assignment on a personal website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or other social media site
Following this assignment, we foresee that the food processor will be able to launch a sustainable, productive, and profitable operation in the long run.
Required Online Training
Introduction to MF and GF
Expertise of Volunteer Expertise Requested
Substantial educational and/or work experience pertaining to food production and/or food safety.
High organizational and facilitation skills and the ability to handle complex tasks with tight deadlines
Effective communication skills both written and verbal
Experience working in a developing country preferred
Flexible in terms of working conditions and schedule
About Grameen Foundation
We are seeking expert technical assistance for rural smallholder farming communities in the Philippines. We are interested to work with you and possibly your institution since we believe it may have experts in food processing safety and tropical agriculture – in particular, the coconut subsector.
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit whose mission is to enable the poor, especially women, to end poverty and hunger. Our programs are on digital innovations for agriculture, digital financial services and health and financing access. We've been in operation in the Philippines for more than 10 years now, and we have our head office in Washington D.C. Last July, we've been awarded a USAID and Partners of America (POA) grant to implement the Capacity-building of the Coconut Subsector (COCOS) Farmer-To- Farmer (F2F) Program in the Philippines. This is from the year 2019 to 2023. During this period, Grameen will deploy a total of 64 US volunteer experts to strengthen the capacity of organizations, firms and service providers working within the coconut subsector. The volunteer engagements are demand-driven, catering to the specific needs of the organization. The following are some of t...he suggested areas or themes for the types of volunteer assignments:
Objective 1 – Increase agricultural sector productivity and profitability
- Improving extension support in order to intensify agricultural production
- Diversification of products and value addition- Supporting coconut-based farming systems with alternative climate-smart livelihood sources
- Farming as a Business: Sensitizing farmers to farming as a business mindset and, in doing so, strengthening the business potential of coconut farmers. Topics may include developing a business plan, farm sustainability plans, keeping records, mobilizing finances, value addition for coconut, etc.
- Market Access: Introducing innovations that increase producers’ awareness of prices and buyers’ standards; help SMEs develop marketing strategies.
- Adoption of technology: introducing, training, and supporting the use of new, climate-smart technologies, GIS as well as Early Warning System (EWS) deployment, scale-up and/or institutionalization.
- Post-harvest management: Processing raw materials, storage, quality control/standards and food safety (HACCP), packaging, and labeling.
- Women’s empowerment in agriculture: Support organizations and firms to identify and develop action plans to overcome gender-related barriers to women’s participation, and/or client-centered design principles and practices.
Objective 2 - Expand agricultural sector access to financial services
- Financial Mapping - Volunteers can support each financial service provider host by mapping existing touchpoints in the local environment to identify the financial services that are made available to farmers. This will increase awareness and drive the usage of financial products that may benefit the growth of farmers’ business.
- Inclusive Finance: According to the demand of MFIs, local agricultural banks, cooperatives and/or other FSPs, volunteer technical assistance