Early UFAL to LAFICO: progressed through the years
Formerly known as the United Fisherfolk Association of Lala (UFAL), the Lala Fishermen’s Cooperative (LAFICO) with 63 members was recognized as a cooperative on March 16, 2020, after showing good results during their first-year operations of the Milkfish in Pen and Tilapia Culture in Pond Project provided by the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program in 2019.
The Php 2,274,850 income for two cropping cycles of tilapia and bangus in 2019 allowed them to lease a beach resort with a seven-year contract, including a small store within the vicinity on January 23, 2020. Not later in December, they also started the operation of their grocery store located in the Community Fish Landing Center (CFLC) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Lanao del Norte.
Their story has been featured in the 3rd issue of SAADventures Magazine Volume 3 on August 26, 2021, where they reported a Php 3,347,950 income from milkfish and tilapia; Php 365,452 from beach resort and store operation; Php 733,384.70 from their grocery store; and a Php 7,000 income from their value-added products (deboned bangus).
Read at https://saad.da.gov.ph/saadventures/saadventures-vol-3-issue-no-3/ (pp. 44-54)
2021 Project Result: the continuation
A year after its inclusion in the publication, LAFICO continued its momentum of catching success by showing exemplary performance from its project implementation.
During the monitoring activity, the cooperative had a gross income of Php 2,151,893 from the fish pen operation (two croppings); Php 1,842,953 from the beach resort operation; Php 1,255,831.20 from the store and catering services; and Php 7,000 from the value-added product (Table 1).
In total, Php 5,257,678 was earned for the year.
Table 1. LAFICO’S 2021 production income
|Fish Pen Operation (two cropping)||2,151,893.80|
|Beach Resort Operation||1,842,953.00|
|Coop Store and Catering Services||1,255,831.20|
According to Mr. Crispin Baldonaldo, the cooperative chairperson, they are now slowly expanding their fishing supplies store and hoping that they could acquire a wider space just within barangay Pacita.
The group built another fish pen unit but is still not operational because of the difficulty in fingerling access. After graduating with SAAD’s assistance, the group eyes to establish its own hatchery to shoulder, cropping expenses in the succeeding years.
Imbued with confidence to take risks taking from the cooperative’s practices, two members were able to replicate the project by funding their own small hatchery. This is where the cooperative sources their stock for the two fish pens. However, the broodstock could not supply the three pens simultaneously.
To address this, the group is about to establish a hatchery intended for their fish operations. They will also offer this at a reasonable price to other bangus growers in their area.
SAAD also provided a mini-processing shed in 2021, that the group utilizes for storage and bangus by-products preparation that is expected to increase their production (deboned bangus, bottled bangus, and bangus corn oil).
Table 2. Analysis on LAFICO’s Milkfish in Pen Operation
|No. of Pen||No of Cropping||Fingerlings
Since the start of its operation, LAFICO showed how well its investment has performed. In its first year, the group gained Php 468,675 net income from the gross sales of Php 1,543,675, which is 43.60% more than the cost to establish (Php 1,075,000.00).
From 2019 to 2021, the group recorded an average positive return of 33.77% generated from the project.
Despite the pandemic in 2020, followed by feeds price shoot-up, their operations continued and even prospered. The cooperative’s efforts, dedication, and responsiveness led to the successful production of more than 39 tons of milkfish which generated Php 4.7 million in gross income. Also, the continuous technical assistance, training, and provision of livelihood inputs from BFAR allowed them to sustain the project.
LAFICO’s plan after SAAD’s assistance
Chairperson Baldonaldo keeps records of their production data and analyzes it to make projections calculating the next cropping expense. Market prices of bangus in their area did not go lower than Php 100/kg, it even shot up to 170-190/kg. As part of their effort to sustain the project, these market studies are religiously observed, preparing for the program’s conclusion this year.
Tangible actions include the group’s plans to improve their beach resort and expand the service offerings of their small store. Furthermore, they are arranging to put up another recreational area on the beach – a disco house to attract more tourists.
Indeed, LAFICO’s story is an embodiment of teamwork. Their journey shows that with intent and careful study of the market, supply and resources management, and rendering of farm legwork, livelihood projects have a high potential of success, returning more than the initial resources poured for its establishment. In the end, this is the SAAD’s spirit, the empowerment that translates the poor communities’ potential into a successful reality, and felt endeavor. When these communities are heard, and they are given tools to realize this, initiatives will create a community-led development. ###
Writer: Jennifer A. Valcobero, SAAD NPMO Public Relation and Comms Officer
Sources of Data and Photos: BFAR Region 10 and BFAR-SAAD Lanao del Norte