The Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines Inc (formerly known as Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Inc.), started as a consortium of Filipino and Canadian non-government organizations (NGOs). It was founded in 1986 as a non-stock, non-profit organization, to become an effective instrument in reducing poverty and inequity in the Philippines. PDAP prides itself in having 6 member networks with more than 300 community-based members and partner NGOs. PDAP has distinguished itself in promoting and developing rural enterprises for poverty reduction and as a tool in promoting peace in conflict-affected areas.
The Pecuaria Struggle for Sustainable Development
“PDCI is a story of a struggle for a better life. It is a manifestation of a people’s aspiration to manage their resources and be masters of their fate”
The People’s Coalition for Unity and Agrarian Reform Integrated Action (PECUARIA) Multi-purpose Cooperative was organized through a partnership efforts of Non-Government Organization, Government and the People’s Organization advocating Agrarian Reform. This has led towards empowering the peasant sector through collectivism and promotion of agricultural development and ecological nurturance.
From struggling cooperative……..
PECUARIA is one of the pioneering farmers’ cooperative engaged in sustainable agriculture which eventually focused on organic farming. The farmer-members of the cooperative are adapting the OA standards as a strategy to increase productivity and improving product competitiveness in the market for the benefit of farmer-members, the cooperative and the community in general.
In the first decade of existence, the cooperative struggled in ensuring farmers’ land tenure and extending technical assistance on appropriate farming system. Similarly, organizational concerns such as membership strengthening, policies and systems installation and setting-up strategic direction to facilitate support service delivery to members. Through partnership, the cooperative was able to avail several support services such as production credit, provision of service facilities, technical and marketing support. Various technical supports extended by partners to leaders, management staff and the farmer-member beneficiaries to enhance their capabilities in managing the organization and social enterprises. However, there were still challenges being faced by the organization: to increase participation of members, building financial capability for their sustenance e.g. generating income from the enterprise and expansion of support services to other members and potential members.
With the cooperative marketing activity, they were able to slowly generate income from 2003 to present. Nonetheless, they are exerting more efforts concerns to further improve and sustain the cooperative enterprises. Thus, the challenges in the 2nd decade of existence are: productivity enhancement, product quality improvement and competitiveness in building internal (leadership and management capability) and external (access to information, technology and market expansion) relationship for their organizational and economic growth towards developing a sustainable enterprise.
One of the major concerns in building internal capacity is the development of second line leaders and managers with conscience that will continuously promote and advocates development by nurturing internal resources and expand partnership/linkages within and outside the organic agriculture industry.
PDAP has contributed in responding those concerns during the PPSE and PRIME program through capacity building (members, leaders and staff), production credit support, the establishment of the organic fertilizer plant and marketing capital for their organic rice. In addition, TRIAS (Belgian Non-government organization) has provided support for capacity building in furtherance of their organization development and training of potential organic rice farmers in the nearby municipalities.
With the training intervention on organic rice farming, the increased in production volume from their expansion area necessitates the cooperative to expand its market linkage and additional working capital requirements. The membership in the national network of organic rice industry (PORIA), muscovado sugar industry council (MUSICO) and the local organic certifying body are some of their initiatives to expand their linkage. The latter, PDAP - PRIME program has provided support by guaranteeing them to partner financing institution (FPSDC) for their additional working capital requirements.
The complementation of supports to the cooperative has contributed to recognize Pecuaria as a led organization in strengthening the local Organic rice industry (Camarines Sur). To date, Pecuaria serves as exposure site to farmers and cooperatives interested to engage in organic farming. Likewise, some of the pioneer leaders and organic rice farmer-practitioners are being tapped as resource persons in organic farming training. This has contributed to boost their confidence to continue their efforts to share such knowledge and expertise in the organic rice industry.
Quoted from their Guru “if you cannot be the Best, be DIFFERENT”, thus Pecuaria believes that differentiating their Organic rice produced as certified Organic pushing Brown Rice and pigmented rice (red and black rice) in the market as healthier option to the consumers.
According to Dr, Marissa V. Romero, food scientist – chemist of Philrice said that the unpolished white, red, black or pigmented rice are classified as Brown Rice. The difference between white, red and black or purple rice is the presence of special pigments that give colors and is naturally present in the rice variety. The darker the color, the higher the level of antocyanin present in the rice which is nutritious and serves as anti-oxidants.
Furthermore, rice has almost similar carbohydrates content but eating brown rice will benefit for higher fiber content that eliminates toxins in the body and eat less rice and thus best for diet.
Other development potential of the cooperative is the establishment of Organic Muscovado sugar that will benefit about 200 farmer-members engaging in sugarcane farming. The cooperative has negotiated support from the Department of Science and Technology in the establishment of muscovado plant. Additional funds will be sourced-out from the local and national government organization supportive to organic farming. While waiting for the muscovado plant to be established, Pecuaria is sourcing-out muscovado sugar from partner MEs in other regions e.g. KAPPIA in Abra, Laua-an in Visayas and SKMFMC in Mindanao to continuously supply their existing local market.
Engaging in vegetable farming is another window for the cooperative’s product diversification. This will help farmer-members’ increased household income while responding to increasing demand for organic products. “Pinakbet” (that includes squash, beans, eggplant, okra and bitter gourd) would be their strategy of producing vegetable. To realize their plans, training on organic vegetables were conducted. However, a market study will be conducted to ensure viability of the project both at the household and the cooperative.