The Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) and the Philippine Coconut Authority last Thursday bolstered their commitment to move forward from coconut production to promoting farming enterprises in the recently concluded National Investment Summit for Coconut-based Farm Enterprises held in the Asian Institute of Management in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.
The commitment was made formal by the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the PCA, farmers’ groups, and local government units witnessed by more than 250 participants varying from farming enterprises to the business sector, the government and various international organizations.
“We need to start to unlearn things,” said Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan. “We have to start thinking outside the box. It doesn’t mean that farmers should just be restricted to being farmers, and that they be excluded from entrepreneurial opportunities- of which there are many.”
WORKING TOGETHER WITH FARMERS COOPERATIVES
Several farmers’ groups will be receiving support from the PCA to further their coconut-based agricultural enterprises:
The Kaagapmuco MultiPurpose Cooperative based in San Francisco Agusan del Sur was established in 2002. Initially just a copra buyer with the initial capital of Php 34,000, Kaagap moved to buying unhusked coconuts from 500 to 5,000 pieces per week for Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) processing. At present, Kaagap covers 4 municipalities in Agusan del Sur with 288 members, giving livelihood to 26 regular and 143 casual/seasonal staff. From being a copra buyer, Kaagap now provides coconut seedlings, household-based coir fiber, producer and supplier of coconet, and an installer of bio-engineering materials among many others.
Based in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, the Masisit Dacal Livelihood Cooperative (MASCoop) has been around for almost 30 years. Started in 1968 with the capital of Php 4,215, it now has over 5,000 members and a regular staff of 47 farmers, fishermen, rebel returnees, and government and private employees. It now covers 125 barangays in two provinces, providing loans, agri-business marketing, training center and beach resort;
Established in 1998, the Capiz Small Coconut Farmers Marketing Cooperative based in Ivisan Capiz was damaged by Typhoon Yolanda. However, regardless of the typhoon’s damage to its facilities, the province-wide cooperative got involved in debris cleaning and cash for lumber projects. The cooperative provides integrated processing of coconuts, covering 169 barangays of Capiz with 3,375 members.
HAND-IN-HAND WITH THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The PCA will also be closely working together with two local governments who are the initial beneficiaries of the PCA’s commitment.
The municipality of Alabat in Quezon will be provided funding for the creation of a coconut sap sugar enterprise, as well as resources for the intercropping of cacao in the municipality. The production of export-quality tufted mats, carpets and other coco noir fiber products in Javier, Leyte will also be supported.
The grants that will be given are sourced from coconut development projects of the PCA as part of the Integrated Coconut Industry Road Map.
MOVING FORWARD: A TASK FORCE
Fifteen individuals from various sectors, including PAFSAM Secretary Pangilinan and PCA Administrator Romulo Alarcon, volunteered to be part of the Task Force, where they will be scheduled to meet regularly and follow up on the next-steps needed to implement the suggestions and learnings from the summit.
“The essence of Inclusive Business in the context of the Agricultural sector is to provide the opportunities for marginalized farmers and communities to be significant players of the value chain where they are able to earn more than their current business arrangements,” said PBSP Executive Director Rafael C. Lopa.
The PCA and OPAFSAM are considering a follow-up summit before the year ends in a scale that would maximize the reach to farmers’ cooperatives and possible future partners.