IRDF Promotes Sustainable Resilient Livelihood Models in Mindanao:
the Case of the Sumbac Multipurpose Cooperative
From only twenty nine (29) Samahang Nayon (SN) members under the Masagana 99 Program of the government during the presidency of Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. sometime in the year 1983, the SUMBAC Multi-Purpose Cooperative went through major organizational challenges before it achieved a nearly- sustainable status.
The 29 Samahang Nayon member-incorporators underwent a Pre-membership Education Seminar (PMES) conducted by the Regional Cooperative Development Assistance Office (RCDAO) on the same year and made preparations to become a newly-organized multipurpose cooperative. With little capital to start with, they launched a local meat vending business through members’ contributions. The small amount of money collected and merged from members became the seed capital, which they were able to roll in the business for 11 years. A small consumer store was subsequently put up during its existence as a pre-cooperative. SMPC continues to operate its businesses as a Preparatory Cooperative for 11 years.
The cooperative was duly registered at the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) under Certificate of Registration / Confirmation No. RN-1335-KEO dated March 11, 1994, and has complied with the requirements prescribed by the Authority for the issuance of new Certificate of Registration No.9520-12004602 under Article 144 of RA 9520 otherwise known as the “Cooperative Code of 2008” given on December 17, 2009. Accreditation from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) was also secured..
In the year 2009, the Savings and Credit services started with Php30,000.00 as loan portfolio of the cooperative granted to 10 qualified members. The business minimally grew as the years went by as it continuously serves its members based on its capacity. But there were snags along the way that threatened the cooperative’s existence. One of these was the inability of the cooperative to collect loan payments of its members who had become delinquent in their obligations. Despite this problem however, the cooperative went on to provide loans to the deserving members, earning interests that redounded to the benefit of its members in good standing.
The entry of Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF) as partner in 2019 totally made a positive turnaround in the economic situation of the cooperative.
Currently, the IRDF is working on the project entitled “Restoring Livelihoods and Building the Resilience of Coconut Farmers in the Philippines”. The said partnership established in the last quarter of 2019 opened the door of opportunities where farmer partners/members can actively participate in the activities of the project’s components, namely; 1. Organizational / Formation and Development Strengthening, 2. Direct Sourcing and / or Enterprise Organizing, 3. Coconut Productivity Enhancement and Farm Diversification.
SMPC aims to serve its members more effectively through marketing of agri-products like copra, charcoal and rubber.
The cooperative currently ventures in whole nut trading and husks processing within the perimeter of the Women’s Center and maintains a plant nursery through the initiative of IRDF (Integrated Rural Development Foundation)
IRDF’s Track Record of Rural Development and Progress
Since the mid-1980s, IRDF has been at the forefront of enhancing the capacities of the marginalized sectors of the society by conducting capacity-building of communities and basic sector organizations at the local level. In North Cotabato, IRDF has been organizing coconut smallholder farmers and building capacity of leaders in organizational management, enterprise development and whole nut trading. As a result, SMPC’s organizational capacity has been strengthened. IRDF also helped established a direct connection between SMPC and Franklin Baker. Hence, SMPC has been recognized as one of Franklin Baker’s accredited whole nut suppliers in Kidapawan City area. With IRDF’s initiative, more and more partners like Franklin Baker are able to reach out to cooperative members and the whole community.
Since the start of its operation, SMPC’s whole coconut marketing business has been of great help to coconut farmers in the locality and nearby barangays by offering not only better buying prices to farmers’ produce but also increasing access to better market and provision of quality coconut harvesting, hauling and marketing services.
To date, SMPC has accumulated roughly 1,446.676 MT of whole nuts delivered to Franklin Baker with an average increase of 361.669 MT annually from the 8.365 Mt volume delivered in December 2019. SMPC continuously provides services to its neighboring barangays and had grown to more or less 253 members, with about 64.82% women and 35.18% men. Majority of the enrolled farmer members in the project received technical training in soil and water conservation management, farm productivity enhancement, and inter-cropping development. The farmer participants receive a simplified instruction on how to manage their farms to boost productivity while also caring for the soils and biodiversity.
As per record, 1,833 assorted seedlings of coconut, cacao and fruit trees were received by at least 29 enrolled and trained farmers. The coconut and cacao seedlings were actually grown in SUMBAC’s community nursery which also supplies seedlings to neighboring project areas.
More farmers are projected to receive seedlings in the next batches of distribution right upon submission of farm validation. Many have accomplished so far, but there are more things to be done and to improve in the governance or leadership and management structure of the coop. IRDF has been encouraging the officers to set up structures or committees that will allow greater participation of members in the business and other organizational activities of the coop.