Balancing sustainability, profitability and social responsibility
Development Cooperative Inc. Experience:
By Emily B. Bordado
through the national highway en route to Albay or Camarines
Sur province one could not miss the rustic, poster-like scene
of cluster of hills, and vast undulating pasturelands located
at Barangay Lanipga, Bula, Camarines Sur. This is but part
of the over 800 hectares of what used to be the Union Agricula
y Pecuaria del Sur de Luzon, popularly known as "Pecuaria",
a hacienda type animal ranch owned by Don Severo A. Tuazon
and co. and Mrs. Teresea Tuazon de Gonzales Lao Co. inc. which
operated from 1952 till 1985. In 1988, because of external
threats and internal unrest , it was submitted for Voluntary
Offer to Surrender (VOS) under the CARP Law.
The coop is currently focusing on red rice production as there is more demand for this and it is more adapted to the area and climate. According to Ludem Molina, chairperson of the board, it is more advantageous to produce red rice than white rice because any discoloration resulting from extended water submersion or high moisture content is hardly noticeable, hence, the price is not affected. Moreover red rice is more nutritious.
The second major economic undertaking of the coop is the production of muscovado organic brown sugar and sugarcane syrup. But their muscovado plant was destroyed last year by Typhoon Reming and has not been rehabilitated since then.
The coop also produces bio-organic fertilizers made from chicken dung, rice straw and carbonized rice hull. It also sells pro-organic garden soil and compost fungus activator.
PDCI has also
ventured into broiler production thru a contract growing arrangement
with Bounty Fresh Corporation.
As part of its services to its members, the coop offers production loan, commodity loan ,cash loan, animal and dispersal. It also provides social health program, hospital care benefits, burial and death benefits, medicine care thru coop botika, herbal care thru coop herbal garden and health care credit loan for its members.
The coop manager, Mr. Miller Bicaldo and Mr. Molina both acknowledged that their decision to convert to organic rice farming was greatly influenced by the MASIPAG technologies introduced to them through the KUSOG federation, an NGO. They espoused the concepts and ideals of MASIPAG to produce healthy foods, use environment friendly-technologies and reduce production cost. The traditional rice varieties which were then hard to come by were made available to them as a component of the MASIPAG technology and these they used initially for their organic rice production. But it was made clear to them by the MASIPAG advocates that the seeds given to them should not be produced commercially or to generate income but for consumption and for their own food-sufficiency only.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Molina explained that given the demand for organic rice over the past 3 years and up to this time, they could not afford to let the opportunity pass. They also believed that farming is a business and farmers must be enterprising .nd as a cooperative PCDI adheres to the principles of cooperation with other cooperatives and other institutions and social responsibility and community involvement. And so they pursue a paradigm shift and ventured into commercial organic rice production and open its doors to business opportunities and to other partners.
PDCI linked up with Shell Foundation where they were trained on bio-organic fertilizer production. The Belgian government through its TRIAS program extended assistance, funneling in a training fund which the PDCI uses to train farmers and extension workers on organic farming. It has trained so far 480 farmers from 7municipalities.
It is also affiliated with Philippine Organic Rice Industry Association (PORIA); Muscovado Sugar Industry Committee (MUSICO); Federation of People's Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC), Bicol Organic Fertilizer Manufacturers Association (BOPMA). MAGSAKA-CA/PAKISAMA; Mtero South Cooperative Bank; Cooperative Bank of Cam. Sur; Camarines Sur Peoples' Organization of Agrarian Reform Community (CSPOARC) .
To date, PCDI has a total asset of over P26 M ; a net surplus of over P2.4 M and a subscribed share capital of P1.5M Average aggregate total sale from organic rice and its by-products for the past two years is about Ps 15 M and a net income of Ps 2.5M for its rice business alone.
like any other rural-based organizations is still faced with
problems. Among which is the lack of drying facilities and
other farm equipment and lack of funds for the expansion of
their rice production area and under economic activities But
PDCI has difficulty applying for loan from commercial credit
institutions. It has yet to redeem itself from the stigma
of being labeled as not credit worthy by a commercial bank for
a bad debt the coop incurred in the past after a failed business
Today, PDCI, stands tall among the small farmers cooperatives in the Bicol region as evidenced by the many awards and recognition it has received. In 1996 it was recognized by the DAR as Progressive Agrarian Reform Community at the national and regional level. In 1997, it was recognized by the Department of Agriculture as the regional Outstanding Small Farmers Organization. In 2001, its Bamboo Manufacturing Project was adjudged Best Livelihood Project by the DAR and DTI regional offices. On October 17th this year it was presented by the DA the Gawad Saka Award as National Winner during the Nationwide Search for Best Organic Farm. And on October 25th it was given an award of recognition by the CDA for being one of the 100 Cooperatives Top Grosser in the region.
Today, The Pecuaria is no longer just an animal farm but an integrated farm enterprise. The long stretch of barbed wires that surround the farm are still there but they no longer appear intimidating as the coop now opens its doors to many farmers groups and other rural based-organizations, extension workers, students and LGU officials and other visitors who now frequent the farm not only to buy their products but also to train on organic farming technologies but also to observe their operations and learn from their experiences which the PDCI officers willingly and generously share.
"It is our dream to make Pecuaria an eco-tourism destination" says chairman Molina " We hope to establish picnic areas where people can have the opportunity to observe and experience life in the farm," he added. With most Filipinos now frequenting malls and recreation center it would indeed be a more meaningful experience to spend some time in a farm like the Pecuaria farm and appreciate the importance of agriculture and the people who labor and toil to feed us.