Batangas, Philippines – Nine farmer leaders representing farmers associations in the provinces of Eastern Samar and Leyte (Region 8) and the province of Palawan went on learning visits to Soro-Soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) on 23 November 2015 and to Buklod Unlad Multi Purpose Cooperative on 28 November 2015. Both cooperatives are located in the province of Batangas and are engaged in successful commercial-scale hog raising with auxiliary business operations such as feed milling and meat processing.
In 2014, with support from Fondation de France and AgriCord, AsiaDHRRA launched a funding facility, dubbed as Post-Yolanda Fund for Local Initiatives to extend assistance to farmers’ and fisherfolks’ organizations (FOs) affected by the super-typhoon Yolanda. The objective of the program is to rehabilitate the farming and fishing activities in the affected areas, especially after the end of the relief operations.
One of the strategies implemented by FOs was to immediately plant fast growing crops for household consumption while, at the same time, looking at long-term livelihood. Before the onslaught of the ST Yolanda, the most of the partner-farmers were used to monocropping systems. Through the program, they were introduced to “integrated, diversified and organic farming systems” or IDOFS, which include animal raising.
In the course of project implementation, there was an increased interest on hog raising, especially among Region 8 partners. The farmer leaders saw a good business potential with the increased numbers of hogs being raised in their respective communities. They started considering possible processing and marketing for their produce. Thus, the famer leaders decided to conduct learning visit to successful cooperatives, such as SIDC and Buklod Unlad, with hog production business.
For over 40 years, the SIDC evolved from a small consumer store cooperative to a diversified hog feed milling and hog producer’s cooperative with over Php 1.8 Billion in assets. It provides almost complete services to its members’ hog production– from pig stocks, feeds, veterinary extension services, marketing, and, meat processing, among others. Meanwhile, founded in 1991, Buklod Unlad is a smaller hog producing cooperative having about Ph 350M in assets.
During the visit with SIDC, SIDC expressed interest to expand its membership-based in Region 8. Buklod Unlad, on the other hand, committed to share with the farmer leaders some of their technical processes in raising hogs. They are willing to provide them with training when needed.
The learning visit provided opportunity for the farmer leaders to understand the concept of cooperative and how it can benefit to small farmers and fishers. Also interesting for them is the hog production processes employed by the two cooperatives and the services extended to their respective members. Such processes and services help reduce economic-related risks to the small farmer-members.
The visit raised hopes for the farmer leaders; it provided them with concrete models and actions that could be adopted in their respective areas. But, most importantly, they realised the need to work together, especially in consolidating small municipal associations in the provincial level to achieve economy of scale.
The nine farmers associations from Region 8 is currently organizing itself into a Region 8 Farmers Alliance or R8 Alliance.