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.
Managing a Community Enterprise the Cooperative: The Case of Laua-an Multi Purpose Cooperative
Antique Province is witness to the rise, fall and resurgence of the muscovado industry.
In its early years, Antique was strategically positioned at the growth center of the industry. With the opening of the Iloilo port, Western Visayas became the hub of muscovado exports which flourished in the 18th century.
Antique’s position, however, was challenged and was cut short by the entry of refined sugar as the product of choice starting 1929.
In spite of this, Antique remains the industry leader in muscovado in the 1960s, accounting for 70% of the country’s total muscovado sugar. Muscovado families who have been muscovado farmers and millers for generations refused to shift to centrifugal sugar.
In the years to follow particularly in the 90s, the prospect of muscovado became brighter with the increasing demand for health and natural products in the country and outside the country particularly Japan and Europe. However, due to the outdated muscovado sugar processing, the muscovado sugar of Antique could not compete at the national and international markets.
In order to maximize the opportunities, industry players in Antique have to resolve major challenges and overcome weaknesses while taking stock of strengths and advantages. One area is the upgrading of traditional (old) muscovado mills in Antique or construction of a modern facility that would cater to the demands of quality muscovado sugar in the export market.
The Philippine Development Assistance Programme (PDAP) under its Promoting Rural Industries and Market Enhancement (PRIME) program funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has assisted its local partners in Antique in facing the challenges of producing quality (sediment-free) muscovado sugar.
One of the recipients of this assistance is Laua-an Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a town-based cooperative which has several muscovado sugar farmer members.
The birth of the cooperative was the result of the vision of Mill Hill Missionaries of addressing the financial problems in the community the cooperative way. On April 20, 1965, the Laua-an Cooperative Credit Union, Inc. (its former name) was registered with the Cooperative Administration Office and later with the Bureau of Agricultural Cooperative Development (BACCOD).
Since then, the cooperative has continued its journey of providing services to the Laua-an community.
At present Lau-an, has a total membership of 1,157, 70% are women and 30% are men. The membership is multi-sectoral (farmers, professionals, employees and housewives). It is an affiliate of Antique Federation of Cooperatives (AFCCUI), a province-wide secondary cooperative. The cooperative is engaged in a wide range of businesses- lending, Coop Cable TV Liaison, Marketing of Handicrafts, Western Union receiving and collection agent and now, muscovado sugar processing and trading.
The assistance led to the construction of the only modern muscovado sugar processing plant in the province of Antique. Hopefully, this processing plant will answer the supply chain problem of producing quality sugar in the province of Antique and the entire Panay island.
The plant has a total cost of 6.7 million of which 2.6 million was sourced through the Visayas Central Fund (VCF). Managed by the cooperative, the plant is touted as the most modern facility in the province of Antique and in the entire Panay Island that adheres to muscovado standards. It is expected to produce a minimum of 40 tons of muscovado sugar per month. This will increase depending of the volume of the purchase order. The service area is 25 hectares and this can expand anytime because the muscovado farmers in the vicinity and neighboring areas have spotted the opportunity of higher returns for their sugar cane.
Potential markets of the muscovado sugar produced from the plant will be Italy, US and Japan for international markets and Antique, Boracay, Iloilo City and Metro Manila for the domestic market.
The plant will be employing 27 personnel (3 shifts) maximum and can provide additional employment in the packaging and expansion of production. It is located in Barangay Casit-an.
Last January 18, its inauguration was witnessed by government and private sector representatives, the sugar farmers of Casit-an and the beneficiaries of PRIME in other areas.