Recognizing the important role of cooperatives in agricultural development, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. called on the country’s cooperative movement on Monday to start the consolidation process for local farmers cooperatives associations (FCAs), vowing government support in carrying out the effort.
“And that is what I— that is how I see the role of the cooperative movement today. Cooperative movement is very closely related to agriculture because for the simple reason that we need to consolidate our farmers. The farmers – maliliit lang sila, they’re one,” President Marcos said during National Cooperative Day celebration in Malacañang.
“‘Yan ang hihilingin ko sa cooperative movement na simulan na natin ang proseso ng pag-consolidate ng ating mga farmers association, ng ating mga cooperatives, lahat ‘yan upang mapunta tayo sa kalagayan na malalaki na ang ating ginagamit na — ang ating pino-process, ang ating tinataniman na lupa. That is what we are trying to do,” Marcos said, adding that organizing cooperatives and farmer groups into bigger associations will give them more voice.
The President, who has been spearheading the efforts to strengthen Philippine cooperatives, said he envisions a movement in which the cooperative movement, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and the government are working together.
He gave an assurance that the government will always be ready to provide the needs of the CDA.
Strong cooperatives are key to improving the country’s agriculture and ensuring food security, Marcos said, noting that the Philippines has been lagging behind Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam in terms of agricultural production.
“Sa bigas lang, ang cost of production natin napakataas at isa sa pinakamalaking factor doon ay ‘yung labor cost. Ang labor cost ng bawat ektarya ng bigas— ng palay — dito sa Pilipinas is double the labor cost per hectare of Vietnam, of Thailand, even Indonesia na hindi naman nage-export, certainly of India,” he explained.
“Kaya’t sabi namin, anong solusyon diyan? Ang solusyon diyan ay mechanization. So papaano gagawin ang mechanization? Eh ‘di siyempre gagamit tayo ng mga— siyempre tulungan natin sa processing, sa milling, sa drying, hanggang sa packaging, hanggang sa marketing.”
Through the cooperatives, President Marcos said that the country could attain economies of scale, especially with the use of huge farm machineries for production and processing that in the end reduce food prices.
As of 2022, there were 20,105 cooperatives in the country, around 1.8 percent lower than the 20,467 cooperatives registered as of 2021.
Based on government record, credit and financial services cooperatives accounted for more than half of the total cooperatives in 2022, followed by agriculture, consumers, and marketing cooperatives. Last year, the industry has generated almost 335,000 jobs.
The National Cooperative Day serves as a meaningful celebration of the 108th anniversary of the Cooperative Month institutionalized by Republic Act No. 11502, or the Act Declaring the month of October of every year as the National Cooperative Month.
Among the efforts of cooperatives to support the government’s vision of a food-secure nation include agri-enterprise development; agri-financing and insurance; value-chain integration; market access and fair trade; and, climate-smart agriculture.
Technology adoption; training and capacity building; community-based food systems; food processing and preservation; advocacy for policies; and disaster preparedness are also part of their efforts. | PND
(Photo courtesy of PCO website)