Today is: Sun, May 19, 2013
Philippines: Growers' collectives credit USAid
Associations of growers in Mindanao are becoming increasingly competitive in the expanding fruit and vegetable supply chain and adopting a farsighted, corporate approach to production and marketing.
The involved groups include small hold farmers, who alone face limited production and marketing potential.
An example of this sort of group would be the Dynamic Vegetable Growers Association based in Tagum, Davao del Norte.
Dynamic, formed in 2005, currently has 130 shareholder-members with a production area totalling 105 hectares, as well as 200 affiliate growers with about 200 hectares.
Despite its relatively small size, Dynamic delivers between 8 and 10 tons of produce a month, all year round, to clients that range from an international hotel chain to the national prison system.
"Farmers can become entrepreneurs themselves," said the group's president Ray Acain.
Another group, The South Cotabato Banana Creations Inc. (SCBCI) has evolved in five years from an informal alliance of small-hold farmers selling to wet-market traders into a seasoned corporation that grows, consolidates and markets a variety of vegetables for high-end supermarket clients.
Bernadette de Jesus, co-founder and corporate secretary of SCBCI, said, "We started out just like other farmers, selling saba bananas to local traders. But they would dictate the terms, and take their time to pay us," she said. "So we thought of dealing directly with the market ourselves, and started figuring out what fruit and vegetable products would sell best."
SCBCI established itself as a produce concessionaire in a mall in nearby General Santos City. Today, the company procures and retails up to five metric tons of about 70 varieties of fruit and vegetables weekly, through outlets in four high-end mall supermarkets.
Dynamic and SBCI both give credit to USAid for giving them access to the technical assistance they needed to develop their operations.
USAID works with growers' associations, farm cooperatives, including cooperatives composed of former combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front, industry councils, and other business support organizations to strengthen the competitiveness of Mindanao's agriculture sector.
Through its Growth with Equity in Mindanao Program, which is implemented under the oversight of the Mindanao Development Authority, USAid provided Dynamic and SCBCI with training and on-site technical advice to improve production quality and post-harvest handling, as well as marketing support.