Harvesting Money in Abaca
San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte | San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (SIUFMULCO) started in 1998 with only 23 members contributing a total capital of PhP3,200.00 . It has now grown into a multimillion-peso cooperative with 349 members.
The secret to this success was venturing into abaca enterprise and marketing way back in 2014. It was also very timely that the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) came in to provide support through its IREAP and IBUILD component.
SIUFMULCO’s General Manager Leonora Mila said that with the help of DA-PRDP, they were able to address one their cooperative’s biggest challenges.
“PRDP’s intervention was very timely. At that time, we had a problem with our small warehouse, aside from its small capacity, it posed a hazard to the community since it was located inside a residential area,” said Mila. “But now, we are very happy to be relocated to a bigger warehouse that has enough space inside for our workers and our abaca products. It also has ample parking space for the trucks to load and unload our abaca fiber.”
Under the IBUILD’s other infra subproject, PRDP provided SIUFMULCO a 900-square meter warehouse and 600-square meter drying pavement to support the enterprise project on Integrated Abaca Enhancement Enterprises for Agusan del Norte.
Under the IREAP’s enterprise subproject, they also received two (2) units of hauling trucks with 18.3 tons capacity each; one (1) unit forklift with 3 tons capacity; and 30 stripping machines where 10 of these are stationary, 10 fixed, five (5) mobile, and five (5) collapsible. Part of the enterprise support is the establishment of abaca nurseries which include planting materials, and organic fertilizers with a 50-hectare expansion area which DA-PRDP funded.
The cooperative is now starting to reap the benefits of the DA- PRDP interventions with a marked increase in volume of their production and income.
“From our previous production of one (1) metric ton per month, our current volume of production is now 250 metric tons per month. Because of the hauling trucks that PRDP provided us as well as the additional truck from DAR, we can deliver to our buyer in Leyte more than four times a week,” said Mila.
As part of its emerging benefits, they are able to continuously provide livelihood to its members which they hired in the warehouse. According to Mila, their workers usually earn around P500 to 600 pesos per day.
Rolando Layham who is working as warehouse supervisor said that they can now have more deliveries to their supplier because of faster hauling with the help of forklift and truck from PRDP.
“Before, we could only deliver around four trucks of abaca a month, but now we can deliver around 13 to 15 truck per month carrying 17 to 18 tons of abaca. Our loading of abaca truck before would take us entire day for one truck, but currently, we can load four (4) trucks of abaca in just one day because of forklift,” said Layham.
From its small capital, SIUFMULCO is now earning around 17 million per month for its abaca enterprise alone. “We are currently earning around 17 million from our abaca, and out of this, 2 to 3 % is their net income which we consider a huge amount. As I remembered, the largest money our cooperative had before was only P50,000 and now we are earning this,” said Mila.
“We are very thankful that we received all the blessings we have now, and we will continue to work hard in order to help more abaca farmers. Indeed, there is money in abaca,” said Mila. (Joy M. Montecalvo |PSO Mindanao)