BACO: a rising agricoop star in the east

Created on Thursday, 09 December 2021 Published Date

Who says that there is no "millionaire farmers’ cooperative" in Eastern Samar?

Just because the province is frequently visited by typhoons and other natural calamities, many pundits and doomsayers would conclude, and consider it as eternally belonging to the 20 poorest provinces in the country – with 50% families reportedly living below poverty threshold.
But mind you, a cursory look at this seemingly laidback province in Eastern Visayas would show various indicators that not all farmers here are mired in the quagmire of extreme poverty.
The emergence of viable farmers cooperatives and associations (FCAs) - following the widespread destruction wrought by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013, is one strong indicator that people here, especially the marginalized farmers, also take pride in surviving and coping with the harshness of life.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing, outdoors, tree and text that says 'THUG ONEDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE 8 Kanhuraw Hill, Tacloban City f'
One of the many major agriculture support entities that make a big difference to the lives of the poor farmers was the coming to existence of BACO. It's an acronym for the Balangkayan Agriculture Cooperative.
Organized on September 23, 2016 as an EU-UNDP Recovery Project, Its humble yet dominant office lies along the national highway in Brgy. 2, Poblacion, Balangkayan, Eastern Samar. It is strategically located in an estimated 2,000 hectare area where major logistics, farm facilities and buildings are used for agri-enterprises involving the processing of key crops such as, cassava, copra, and corn.
From a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-initiated organization in post-Yolanda era, it now becomes an accredited San Miguel Food Assembler of cassava chips, and a trading partner and significant source of copra and corn products which are traded to Ormoc City and other major cities in the Visayas.
In an interview with 42 year old Ms. Anita Dadulla, General Manager of BACO, it was gathered that since cassava are predominantly grown in Balangkayan and neighboring municipalities throughout the year - and considering its vast potentials in terms of yield and profitability, the cooperative with 423 primary members and 598 associate farmer-members had chosen cassava, corn and coconut as major crops.
Nowadays, BACO is focused on educating first its farmer-members on the new farming practices, and work doubly hard in trying to expand in terms of production area to the rest of Eastern Samar municipalities. It acts not only as product assembler, but also as consolidator minding the cost of production and instability of prices.
During the interview, Ms Dadulla humbly cited the important role of the local government of Balangkayan under the leadership of Mayor Allan Contado and the province for putting the welfare of the people first which is aptly aligned to Governor Ben Evardone's dictum: "Ha aton Probinsya, Tawo an Una."
"BACO practically came to existence as the end result of UNDP's massive rehabilitation work after Yolanda. But since the time of the UNDP exit in 2017, we have partnered with different government agencies, especially the Corn Program of the Department of Agriculture who taught us a great deal about Farm and Fishery Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) as a potent marketing strategy for farmers in the area."
As widely known now, cluster farming refers to the grouping of farmers who work together to consolidate market-driven products to sell to bigger markets.
Under the F2C2 strategies, two cluster farming approaches are pushed namely: an Area - based and a Commodity - focused approach .
In an Area - based approach , farmers come together according to proximity of farms and trading post; while the Commodity - focused approach , farmers plant the same agriculture or fishery commodities and combine their products to come up with a larger volume in a sustainable and of more consistent quality produce.
Its main goal is to consolidate smallholder farmers' produce , deliver in bulk or desired volume to save transportation, and other operational costs, thus increasing income for farmer-members.
Apart from this, BACO extended loan/credit services to both primary farmer-members and associate members thru: 1) Micro-Negosyo Program wherein one can borrow from P5,00 to P25,000 as start-up capital; 2) Small agribusiness loan from P25,000 to P100,000; 3) Providential loan for members with share capital of P50,000 to P100,000, and 4) Production loan specific to farmers with one-hectare farm area.
Farmer-member Globio Micah, 46, believed that with this set up, they are assured to be financially better off as a groupreneur rather than the traditional way of selling individual farmer’s produce.
Using BACO as a farm cluster for selected agri products, farmer-members were substantially benefited through assured access to market, market info, production and market linkages, technical, logisticss and even financial support.
For farmer Micah alone, he is at present tending a 2-hectare farm in Brgy. Balugo, planted with yellow cassava variety that will provide him (barring any untoward weather disturbance) a conservative estimated income of P50,000 per hectare. Another 3-hectare for Rayong 75 cassava variety with estimated net income of P70,000-85,000 per hectare. Rayong 75 is strictly for animal feeds and other industrial uses only - due to its high cyanide content.
Meanwhile, talking about support services, the DA Regional Office 8 thru its OneDA Reform Agenda, has been able to pour in several package of program interventions to BACO. Among others, an array of major interventions from DA include the following:
1) Buildings and infrastructures were built and funded under the DA’s Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Program (YRRP). These include nursery, wood vinegar and goat houses which were turned into storage or warehouses for farm inputs and farm crops;
2) Planting materials, fertilizers for the 30-cassava plantations;
3) Logistical support for the 3 hectare corn techno demo;
4) P3miliion- worth of Hauling truck courtesy of DA- AMAD’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita Marketing project;
5)Farm machineries consisting of 2 four-wheeled tractors (one with 95HP and the other 45HP engines)

May be an image of 2 people, people standing and text that says 'A DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE 8 ONEDA Kanhuraw Hill, Tacloban City >>>> Masaganang f'

With a joint massive backing from the local government units (LGUs), and never ending flow of developmental interventions from the national government and private institutions, BACO takes pride in successfully climbing from only P17,400 initial capital build-up (CBU) to P1.4 Million in a short span of time. Today, BACO boosts a total asset in the amount of P4,344,287 and still counting. ###

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