Project location: Mindanao, Philippines
Funding: £23,670
Year / duration: 2007 / 1 Year
Partner: One World Action

The Manobo people live in the Agusan marshlands of Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines archipelago. Today, the main source of income for around 90% of the indigenous Manobo population is fishing. However, despite the regions rich resources, poverty and malnutrition in this region is severe.

Middlemen and traders come from all over the Philippines to buy fish at rock bottom prices. Traders advance exploitative cash loans to local fishing families binding whole communities to debt and
poor trading terms. Crippling poverty and pressure from traders has also meant that fishing communities are increasingly using unsustainable methods, like dynamite, to catch fish. This is ravaging the vast and complex freshwater ecosystems of the marshes and decreasing fish stocks.

TRAID provided a grant to One World Action to empower the Manobo people to improve their livelihoods, free their communities from debt and work for themselves. This funding established the Agusan Fish Processing Enterprise, a cooperative business model giving fishing families complete ownership over their livelihoods. As a cooperative, they are involved in the whole process of production and are reinvesting profits into the business. Fishing families have reduced their dependency on traders, and by selling fish for higher prices, are able to pay off their debts.

For the first time in their history, the fishing families living on the Agusan Marshes are selling their fish for a fair price and are running a successful and profitable social enterprise.

Key Achievements

  • The processing plant is operational and is generating profits
  • Fishing families are selling their catch at a higher and more stable price
  • 100 fishing families have been equipped with fishing nets and canoes
  • Sustainable fishing methods are being promoted