By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
SIX months after it was launched in February as the newest co-op in town, the Mambulao Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPC) has been able to hit initial targets under its livelihood-making push.
The proponents of this co-op – a small group of overseas-based Mambulaoans – should be proud of what their baby has achieved so far.
Because when they were planning this venture about a year ago, their main interest was to start a business activity that is sustainable.
At the same time, they wanted to find ways by which the co-op could help the marginalized members of the community as a spin-off project.
The idea of generating sustainable jobs for this less-privileged group was immediately hatched, although it was still vague as far as the group was concerned as to what form it should come about.
On the other hand, the Mambulao local government had also been in search of potential livelihood projects that could benefit its poor.
With MMPC and Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla flying on the same wavelength, the co-op’s livelihood projects finally took off.To date, the co-op is enjoying a funding support of Php90,000 from the Mambulao government under its own livelihood program and another Php40,000 raised by your news tunnel MWBuzz from a group of donors based in the US and Canada.
For its first venture, MMPC supported three tilapia cage projects – two in Larap and one in Osmena – by providing the operators feeds right from the start of the growing season up to the harvest
MMPC also provided the materials to build the net cage.
Although MMPC has not disclosed the worth of input that went into the tilapia production, I can make a wild guess that it should be between Php5,000 and Php15,000 for each of the three operators, considering that the cycle to grow some 1,000 fingerlings per project would normally last up to four months.
Now, the good news is that subsistence fisherman Rudy Divinagracia of Larap has begun harvesting his fish in batches, which he began culturing late last March.
A few days ago, he turned over the first harvest to the cooperative under their feed loan repayment agreement.
The cooperative has already sold to the co-op members the first delivery, with more table fish to follow, after which MMPC would deduct the amount of feedstock loan it extended to Divinagracia.
Says Elsie Dimaunahan, MMPC’s operations manager: “Maganda po ang harvest ni Mang Rudy (Divindagracia) … may magandang hanap-buhay na po siya at malamang palawakin pa niya ang kanyang fish cage project (Mang Rudy has got a good source of income and it is more likely that he will expand his operations).”
Divinagracia’s floating tilapia cage is at the man-made lake of the defunct open mining pit in Larap.
Dimaunahan said Divinagracia’s first harvest was good as the fish has high eating quality.
“Malasa po ang isda … hindi po lasang burak (putik) tulad na ibang tilapia na nabibili natin sa palengke … isang dahilan po ay maganda ang quality ng tubig na pinapaglakihan ng mga isda (it is tasty … the fish doesn’t taste like silt as in the case of other tilapia sold in the market … this is because the quality of the water where the fish was cultured is suitable to fish growing.)”
Those who missed the fish said: Bakit di mo ako pinagbilhan… masarap daw ang tilapia ninyo? (why did you not tell me about the fish … I was told it tasted good…)”
Meanwhile, the two other operators are still in the midst of their growing cycle.
AS OF NOW, the group of mothers in Baranggay San Martin is anxiously waiting for its poultry house to be completed. So far, only the finishing touches remain to be completed and the day-old chicks would come in.
The mothers are going to raise a 45-day chicken variety.
The cooperative is providing poultry feeds and veterinary medicines to the growers, while a team from the local government will provide the extension support.
One income generating project that has become popular is the co-op’s mini sari-sari store scheme.
There had been a number of households that started running sari-sari store in their neighborhood.
The co-op has supplied the operators all sorts of paninda. Under their repayment scheme, the recipients will repay on a weekly or kinsenas basis, depending on their sales volume, the value of goods the co-op had provided them.
This time, the co-op has resurrected the failed kariton livelihood project initially started by the municipal government sometime last year.
Now, with more funding available for this project – including the Php40,000 from MWBuzz’ overseas donors – at least the first 10 potential recipients are expected to roll their push carts.
The process by which the cooperative operates its livelihood project is simple: any individual (he should be certified poor) wishing to start a project is advised to see the mayor, who will determine the project’s feasibility. Proposals that have been initially okayed by Meyor Dong would be endorsed to the cooperative, which will then start screening the applicant.
The co-op has put in place a team that will monitor the performance of each livelihood project operator, while a technical person from the livelihood unit of the LGU would coordinate with the recipients to find out what support they would need in the course of their operations.
With all this taking place simultaneously, the co-op is practically looking at a plate heaping with foodstuff, waiting to be gobbled up.
Meantime, MMPC has until the end of August to report on the result of its first six months of operations as a consumer cooperative engaged in grocery business.
The venture has gained big patronage from the families of OFWs, who have become the revenue sector for the co-op since they have steady monthly income, thus generating to good sales.
One last note: When the co-op’s proponents were trying to figure out how this project would generate jobs for the less-privileged, they assumed the money to create such jobs would come from the co-op’s sales revenue.
They would know now that there’s a group and a local government that are equally passionate about helping the poor rise from their poverty.
But this should not end here, as there are more things that could be done for more less-fortunate Mambulaoans.
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