“Lakatan sa Siayan” depicts the success story of Macasing Consumers Cooperative from the municipality of Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte province. The group received interventions on the Banana Lakatan Production Project.
Upland areas are the most vulnerable and complicated agricultural zone in farm production considering the complexities present in these areas ranging from its topography, water limitation, soil problem, accessibility to market and even social problems where poor farmers are mostly situated. This is the face of the municipality of Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.
When the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) started its implementation in 2017, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Siayan prepared the proposal project. The project, Upland Productivity and Harnessing Enterprise Development (UP-AHED), intends to connect the disconnected value chain from production to marketing that could bring about an increase in farmers’ income. The target organizations of marginalized farmers were from Barangays Litolet, Macasing, and Seriac.
The project is implemented and managed by the Pangkabuhayan organizations and its members with technical support from the Municipal Agriculture Office. Pangkabuhayan Center is a flagship program of the municipality of Siayan to promote entrepreneurship as a mechanism to attain rural development.
One of the organizations is the Macasing Consumers Cooperative (MACONCO) which traces its beginning in 2014. The cooperative had the chance to avail of an agricultural-related project when the DA-SAAD came in 2017. The project is a combination of the crop (banana) and cattle production. The crop production will focus on the establishment of banana plantation farm adopting improved technologies and strengthening the farmers to handle projects effectively and efficiently.
The farmer-members underwent training programs, field exposures, and leadership workshops highlighting the importance of a strong organization as part of the social preparation.
DA-SAAD provided the 10 members of MACONCO with 5,000 plantlets in total together with fertilizer components and minor farm inputs to ensure the success of the project. Aside from these interventions, access to technical training, organizational management, financial and project management, policy formulation, and recording of production to enhance business management capacities was provided by the program to the organization.
The banana plantlets were delivered in Siayan in January 2018 and after a month, the banana plantlets were distributed to the farmer-partners of MACONCO. It was already a bit late for the farmers to plant the plantlets as this period was not suitable for planting.
Another hindering factor was the inadequate supply of water as most farmers depend only on rainfall. Through their eagerness and ability to limit the mortality rate to its possible lowest number, the farmers together with the Municipal Agriculture Office meticulously attend to the needs of the plantlets and the strict application of the fertilizer components.
The farmers don’t just solely depend on the project. They also intercropped corn to maximize their farm plantation. Corn seeds are provided by the Municipal Agriculture Office to the farmers who wish to avail.
The farmer-partners are also focused and determined on expanding the banana plantation in the entire municipality of Siayan. The idea of expansion was based on their policy as agreed between the organization and the Municipal Agriculture Office. For one fully matured banana plant, the farmer will give three plantlets to the cooperative. The cooperative will act as the manager and collector of these plantlets and determine the next-in-line cooperative-members that are qualified to avail the roll-over scheme.
Planting the banana plantlets takes a meticulous step-by-step process. A lot of external factors should also be considered.
The tissue-cultured banana plantlets were planted in February 2018. In January 2019, the cooperative had their first harvest of two bunches of lakatan at 26 kilos. This was sold at 16 pesos per kilo.
After six months of dedicated harvests, the two farmer-partners of the cooperative already recorded a total of 1,808 kilos of total production and a net income of Php 35,063.00.
The facilitating factors for the success of the project are the organization’s willingness and dedication, the regular monitoring activities of DA-SAAD, and the technical support from the Municipal Agriculture Office.
Heaps of opportunities are available in the uplands however there are also tons of obstacles limiting its development. Technology, social adoption, and financial incapacity are among the factors limiting project development. Pest and disease infestations, typhoon and drought are also the association’s challenges.
With the help provided by the DA-SAAD, the farmer-partners are now motivated and challenged to rebuild their farming activity to improve the social outlook of the community.
There are ten farmer-partners from MACONCO who availed the Banana Production Project which composes of two males, eight females, and six farmers belonging to the Indigenous People sector. All of them are earning below the poverty threshold.
In general, the project aims to reduce the poverty situation of the municipality, ensure food security, and augment the income of the farmers through an increased area planted, and increased yield while adopting farm diversification.
A market cooperation policy was forged by the Pangkabuhayan Centers and the farmer-partners to ensure that the production in excess of home consumption will be sold to the market.
On the part of the Pangkabuhayan Center, they will have to commit a marketing capital of not less than Php 20,000.00, which will be used for the marketing of products duly stated in their Annual Development Plan. The Siayan Pangkabuhayan Federation Cooperative(SIAPAFEDCO) will also be part of the marketing flow to consolidate all products.
Written by Roger Dave F. Gramatica