(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Tuesday, 18 June 2024) Southwest Monsoon affecting the western sections of Southern Luzon and Visayas. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—˜π—”π—§π—›π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—œπ—‘π—— 𝗔𝗑𝗗 π—–π—’π—”π—¦π—§π—”π—Ÿ π—ͺπ—”π—§π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Light to moderate winds coming from Southeast to South will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Friday, June 11, 2021

Feature: Banana farming plants hope of progress in Veruela town of AgSur

By DA-Caraga

Having no signal and distant from industrial developments, residents of Barangay Sta. Emilia, Veruela, Agusan del Sur almost lost hopes in improving their lives by selling the only common commodity in the community, the bananas.

However, when the Department of Agriculture Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) in Caraga intervened in 2018, it restored the farmers lost confidence and shed light on the community.

Improving Banana Industry

The Kinabugawan Farmers Producers Cooperative (KIFAPCO) is one of the Proponent Groups of the I-REAP or Enterprise Component of PRDP. The nine-year-old coop started from 25 members and struggled to establish their coop since it’s in a remote area.

According to Maricel Bautista, KIFAPCO Secretary and a banana farmer, aside from the problems in the field, selling bananas has been unlucrative since many times buyers reject their products.

Members were also lost in the marketing operations of the coop, unaware of the financial process and management.

In 2018, PRDP funded KIFAPCO with P928,000 for the two interventions: the establishment of a 2-hectare (ha) Lakatan plantation as an expansion to the existing 13-ha Lakatan area of KIFAPCO and a provision for the buying station, weighing scale, and operational fund for its banana production and trading business.

The project allowed KIFAPCO to expand its economic activities on buying and selling bananas thereby generating income for the coop. On top of the income from their Lakatan production, a P0.25/kg is added to their coop.

Further, the microenterprise members and banana growers are guaranteed a sure market for their produce since KIFAPCO consolidates and sells it to their contracted buyer. Likewise, farmers get a fair market price, increasing their income up to five percent (5%).

For three years, PRDP provided training to the coop such as Enterprise Operations and Manual, Simple Bookkeeping, and Capability Development Planning. This engaged them in properly managing the coop’s finances and operations.

“These training helped us how to manage the coop’s money, how much it should profit and the annual patronage refund of the beneficiaries. We learned how to manage a business,” blurted Bautista.

Gabato also emphasized that the training opened their eyes to how credit and debit work.

“We thought before that credit is loan and debit is just arguing during a session. Then PRDP taught us that it’s different in the financial aspect. Credit is income and debit is expenses. Now we can itemize our operations and regulate our financial record and that’s very important in a cooperative,” Gabato said.

Empowered banana farmers

All the interventions of PRDP gave strength to KIFAPCO. They expanded their plantation area from the original two-hectares plantation to five-hectares. The coop also accumulated assets worth P3M.

Banana farmers were empowered to expand their area and immerse themselves in business.

“My banana area was just 1-ha before. With PRDP’s training on proper planting, I was encouraged to expand my plantation to 7-ha. My income increased from P10,000 to P30,000 per month depending on the market price. Residents here have been buying cars already since their monthly income is guaranteed and has a huge increase. PRPD helped us a lot,” Bautista said.

Further, even during the pandemic, KIFAPCO had no issues in selling their products since their contracted buyer could freely come to their coop and buy their bananas.

Banana farmers meet World Bank

With the banana farmers’ hard work and PRDP’s interventions, KIFAPCO has grown to be a booming enterprise. This gave them the ticket to represent PRDP Caraga’s I-REAP to the World Bank Mission consultation and dialogue.

Chairman Gabato addressed the question from the world bank consultant Agnes Deshormes on how they foresee the coop’s growth.

“We envision to strengthen KIFAPCO's marketing strategies which will also improve the lives of the banana farmers. In business marketing, we encourage the members to sell their bananas to us so that our income will increase. In every purchase, P0.25 goes to our coop. The amount will surely increase and we can use this to improve the coop and help our banana farmers,” he said.

Gabato added that despite the many negativities brought by the pandemic, it became an advantage to them.

"During the height of the pandemic when the lockdown was implemented, residents concentrated in farming specifically banana since it is the notable commodity here. Most untilled lands were now planted and this increased banana production," Gabato disclosed.

KIFAPCO and other PGs from Visayas and Mindanao were lauded by the World Bank consultants including Eli Weiss, Maria Theresa Quinones, Tim Hancock, and Agnes Deshormes for their hard work despite the calamities and crisis they have encountered along the way. (Zenny Awing/DA-PRDP13/PIA-Agusan del Sur)