World Bank regards Calatagan seaweeds’ PGs as role model
The unity and hard work of the proponent groups (PGs) of PRDP-funded “Seaweeds Production and Marketing in Calatagan, Batangas” were commended by the World Bank team during the community dialogue on November 28 for the World Bank’s seventh Implementation Support Mission to the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) South Luzon Cluster.
The lead PG, Batangas Seaweeds Farmers Association (BASEFA), together with Layon Carbonan Chapter Seaweeds Farmers, United Aquaculture Association of Poblacion 4, Samahan ng Maliliit na Maggugulamanan ng Sitio Kanluran presented the background, objectives, and progress of their seaweed enterprise during the said dialogue.
Luningning Bondoc, Economist from the World Bank and Douglas Forno Institutional Specialist from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) commended the PGs’ harmony. “It is hard for a project like this to work if you are divided. Good job for acting as one,” Bondoc said.
Strength in clustering
Flora Limoico, president of the lead PG, proudly said that the key to their success is unity.
“Sa una po kasi iba iba ang karakter ng mga grupo dahil iba’t iba ang aming barangay but as we go on naayos namin smoothly. Natuto kaming mag sumikap ng buo. Eventually we were able to consolidate our common basic interests (Our groups had different characters since we are from different barangays but as we go on we were able to manage the enterprise smoothly. We worked as one by unifying our common basic interest),” Lomoico explained.
According to Limoico, working as a cluster help them raise their products’ bargaining power. Through the PRDP enterprise, the four PGs face challenges collectively. They regularly meet to discuss concerns and ways to resolve them.
Forno highlighted that harmony is an essential tool for sustainability of the project. He encouraged the group to carry on and set as a good example to other associations, especially in Batangas.
The Provincial Local Government Unit of Batangas is in full support of the PRDP seaweed enterprise. Through the assistance of the Provincial Cooperative, Livelihood & Entrepreneurial Development Office (PCLEDO), the four PGs of the said subproject will form a cooperative. “We are deviating from livelihood mentality. Forming a cooperative is an important step in enterprise development. This way, benefits will really go directly to its members and it will breed accountability. It will also be easier for agencies to help them,” Celia Atienza, Head of PCLEDO stated.
Currently, the enterprise provides additional income to its women members by engaging them in small scale production of value added products such as seaweed crackers and pickles. “Adopt-a-Farmer” initiative will also be implemented starting on the second year of operations. In this activity, the enterprise will distribute propagules to non-member seaweed farmers to expand the seaweed production in the municipality. The 4.43 million Calatagan enterprise, is one of the six enterprise development (I-REAP) subprojects in Batangas. ### (Rio Christine Bustamante, DA-PRDP South Luzon PSO InfoACE Unit)