Mindanao coops to provide market for small farmers' produce-A A +A
Friday, January 25, 2013
THE Federation of Cooperatives in Mindanao (Fedco) has vowed to provide market for the harvests of small banana-cacao growers who underwent trainings on banana-cacao intercropping project.
Flordelyn Saavedra, Fedco marketing head, said the farmers enrolled with Farmer Field School (FFS) on banana-cacao intercropping have expressed concern on market accessibility, a problem they are facing as small farmers.
Small farmers from Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte raised the problem in one of their FFS sessions recently.
Ponciano Andamun, farmer/beneficiary of Fedco's FFS, has already started planting cacao under his banana trees.
He said the new farming system is quite promising, but he is worried on where to market his harvests.
Based on previous experience, Andamun said due to lack of market accessibility his bananas find its way to the wet markets in Sto. Tomas at very low price. Worse, those that were not sold perished, he lamented.
"This is a very good project for us small farmers, but I will just ask on the guarantee that our products will have a market otherwise they might just rot because we don't have buyers," Andamun said.
Saavedra, who was present at the session, assured the farmers that Fedco will help them by consolidating their produce and will provide the desired market.
She said Fedco is aware of the small farmers' problem on market accessibility.
However, in the case of cacao, Saavedra is confident it would not be difficult to market the product given its current demand.
Citing a study of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Saavedra said the country currently needs about 35,000 metric tons (MT) of cacao annually.
However, the current produce is only at 6,000 MT.
The huge cacao supply lack is an assurance that the produce of the small farmers who are now into cacao growing will find a market, Saavedra said.
Fedco ventured into banana-cacao intercropping project in the wake of the problems confronting the banana industry among others, pest infestation that resulted in stricter quality requirements from export markets. Fedco members included big and small banana growers.
Fedco partnered with Acdi/Voca, an international organization currently implementing CocoPal Farming System project in Mindanao, in its banana-cacao intercropping project called Cacao-Banana Agri-Enterprise Development (CBAED).
First phase of the CBAED covers the establishment of a cacao nursery to sustain the project while the second phase involves the training of the small farmers through FFS.
The project is targeted to end next month benefiting a total of about 2,000 small farmers.
Fedco's nursery project in Barangay New Katipunan, Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte covers 1.8 hectares planted with about 4,000 cacao trees. The project started in April. At present, about 1,800 trees are already fruit bearing, Benjie Lumiguid, Fedco's nursery in-charge said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 26, 2013.