Tuesday, February 23, 2016


by: Ernesto T. Solidum

    Agriculture has been tasked to address government’s goal of generating quality jobs and ensuring an exclusive economic growth. Ironically, while 42 percent of our population is dependent on farming, only 15-16 percent is contributed by the sector to Gross Domestic Product(GDP). Based on 2012 PSA data, there were 12.09 million people employed in agriculture or 32 percent of a total workforce of 37.61 million. Yet farmers’ income averages only P170.00 per day. According to FAO, the Philippines has the fifth highest food inadequacy at 54 percent behind Cambodia – 27.1 percent, Myanmar – 29.6 percent, Laos – 38.3 percent and Timor Leste – 46.1 percent.
    The above scenario could be alleviated if farmers join stable and progressive cooperatives. Such is the outstanding  Soro-soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) located in Batangas City. The name soro-soro is taken from cactus, a plant that thrives under the sterling leadership of Mr. Victoriano E. Barte along with 58 incorporators chipping in P200.00 each. After 47 years, the former Samahang Nayon has P1.85 billion worth of assets and supported by 22,000 active members.
    Among its awards are: Outstanding Old Farmers’ Organization (1969), Kooperatibang May Pinakamalaking Kita (August 10, 1995), Two (2) times Hall of Fame Awardee (April 6,2000, and November 28, 2002), Most Outstanding Cooperative 2000 (October 20, 2000), Platinum Award (August 2013), Internationally Accredited Animal Feed Manufacturer (June 3, 2015).
    Through its expanded cooperative network, its products and services include: animal feeds (hog, chicken, duck, cattle and quail), organic fertilizer, SIDC Aqua care, savings and loans, resort and adventure park, contract animal farming (broiler and swine), consumer store and gas station. Its huge feedmill complex has the capacity to produce 9,000 bags per day.
    While SIDC consumer stores are fully established in Central and Southern Luzon, the cooperative has started to gain a foothold in Three (3) locations in Aklan namely: Ibajay, Caticlan and Makato. The eventual target is to expand commercial operations particularly sale and distribution of quality products to famer clienteles at the lowest cost.
    The mechanics of the contract growing scheme is that SIDC provides the weanlings (in case of swine) or day old chicks for broilers and animal feeds good for 4 months and 45 days respectively. The farmer cooperators’ equity or counterpart of the animals are labor and space. The total initial cost is deducted from the gross sales.
    The net income of the farmer cooperator largely depends on the prevailing price in the province. SIDC guarantees that its animal feeds cost much less at P1,100/bag compared to P1,300/bag of other commercial feeds. At best, it is essential to raise minimum number of hogs ideally 10 and broilers to 1000 heads for economies of scale.
    In addition, a team of livestock technologists headed by veterinarian ensures that farm animals get the best health care with desired liveweight at maturity. They also provide artificial insemination (AI) services on demand. To ensure clean environment, animal wastes are fed into a biogas digester to provide home electricity or cooking gas.
    Bonafide members of SIDC are provided patronage refund, SIDC care and medical benefits, scholarship grants, seminars, and trainings, mortuary aid, yearly incentive, technical and marketing services, job opportunities and free medical check-up. Membership in cooperatives are voluntary and democratic principles are observed.
    The duties of members are to attend regular, special and annual meetings, pay membership fee (P3,000 regular member, P100 associate member), pre-membership education seminar (PMES), submit any valid ID, marriage contract, barangay clearance, TIN number and 2 ID pictures.
    SIDC Aklan headed by Harold C. Sustre has conducted a one day orientation seminar about SIDC program and objectives on February 10, 2016 at Kusina sa Kalibo. PMES lecture was ably handled by Ms. Ritchel P. Refendor, while Mr. Kevin Caontay tackled Swine Management System. A total of 30 participants, mostly backyard swine raisers from Ibajay, Makato, Numancia, Kalibo and Banga became the first batch of participants.
    Aklan, despite its ideal soil and climate is a food deficit province importing 120 heads of hogs daily from Iloilo and Mindoro aside from dressed chicken, eggs, rice, fruits, vegetables and seafood. A sizeable portion of the commodities is unloaded in upscale market of Boracay to appease the gastronomic appetite of 1.5 million tourists each year./MP

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