BUHI, CAMARINES SUR – As the Bicol region was battered repeatedly by three strong typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses in October and November, the DA -funded Rice Processing Centers (RPCs) in this municipality served as refuge for over 70 families.

Simeon Molina, General Manager of the San Antonio Farmers Irrigators Multi-purpose Cooperative said that since the first RPC-1 was turned over to them in 2014, they always opened the facility as evacuation center for the typhoon affected families.

“Malaki po ang pasasalamat namin sa DA RFO 5 dahil nabigyan kami ng dalawang RPCs, isang napakaluwang na bodega at P1-million working capital sa bawat RPC,” Molina enthused. The coop was one of the recipients of DA’s 37 Rice Processing Centers situated all over rice producing areas of Bicol region. The P5.5 million-worth RPCs have 1 set multipass rice mill with minimum output capacity of 1 ton/hour milled rice; one 300 square meter warehouse and weighing scale.

The coop started on palay trading in 2014. As it expanded its operation catering to 400 farmer members with a total  irrigated rice area of 300 hectares, the association received another complete package of RPC-1 and P1-million capital from DA Bicol in 2018. The coop also received  a rice combine harvester, flatbed dryer and grain collector.

In 2014, SAFIMCO bought 1,328 cavans of fresh palay from farmers amounting to P1.5 million. In 2015, the coop bought 2,604 cavans of fresh palay amounting to P1.9 million. In 2016, SAFIMCO bought 3,026 cavans fresh palay amounting to P2.3 million. In 2017, 2,260 cavans fresh palay amounting to P1.76 million were bought from farmers. In 2018, 2,569 cavans fresh palay amounting to P2.1 million were bought from farmers. The coop milled the palay and sold them as milled rice. From 2015 to 2018, SAFIMCO earned total sales of P2.1 million; P2.6 million; P2.1 million; and P2.5 million respectively. In the dry and wet season cropping of 2019, SAFIMCO sold a total P3.3 million worth of rice equivalent to 2,099 bags.

The coop achieved its highest income this 2020 during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) when it has sold a total of 2,413 bags rice worth P3.9 million from March to June 2020. The increase in sales was due to the demand for milled rice from Local Government Units for their relief assistance. The LGU of Buhi bought 1,300 bags milled rice from SAFIMCO; Polangui barangay councils bought 300 bags; and 3 barangay councils of  Iriga City bought 150 bags milled rice.

Aside from palay trading,  SAFIMCO  is currently engaged in input dealership, and micro finance. The coop offers a low-interest agricultural loan to farmer members at P15,000 per hectare payable in 4 months. Molina said that they are using the P1- million cash award the coop received from DA-NIA in 2015 in this loan scheme.

The coop was also a recipient of a Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) in 2014. DA  provided SAFIMCO with cold storage facilities, technical assistance  and working capital. The BFT which serves as depository of the farmers’ agricultural produce helped make basic necessities and quality food like rice, fish, vegetables and fruits, available to the residents who used to travel 13 kilometers just to buy necessities at the town proper. Molina said that from their P375,000 BFT package, the coop was able to sustain the BFT operations through the years and their BFT is currently worth P700,000.

As of December 2019, SAFIMCO has P42.8 million asset. (Lovella P. Guarin / photos by Eduardo Collantes, Jr. – DA RAFIS 5)