SULU Provincial Cooperative Unit (SPCU) has formulated a development plan for this year to sustain productivity and promotion of cooperative movement in Sulu province, south of Zamboanga City.

Sulu provincial information officer Bong Abing said the development plan includes the increase of infrastructure support, capacity building, intensifying promotion and advocacy, and the institutionalization of the cooperatives for sustainability.

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Abing said the SPCU will sponsor seminars on bookkeeping, competency course for Board of Directors and the continuous training and technical assistance to farmers as part of the capacity building.

A provincial cooperative summit is scheduled to be held next month. It will be followed by the “Kahawa Sug” (The coffee of Sulu) and fruits festival in April to showcase and market the products of Sulu, Abin said.

He said post production facilities for coffee are scheduled to be completed and to be turned over to cooperative members by March this year.

The SPCU has a total member of 46 primary cooperatives and new applications for membership are increasing, subject to registration and approval by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

Abing said they will create the Provincial Cooperative Council to further strengthen cooperative movement and widen its influence and assistance to the farmers in Sulu.

Abing said a five-year Strategic Cooperative Development is also being seriously considered to provide the next step for the cooperative movement in the province.

Provincial Cooperative Officer Sahirun Amirul said technical and loan assistance provided by the Provincial Government and assisted by the SPCU to the cooperative movement last year brought economic gains to the members and the community.

Amirul said Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan has channeled Capital Augmentation Fund to the cooperatives through the SPCU, which is responsible for the management of funds.

Amirul said they have released a total P4.2 million to cooperative beneficiaries that have complied with the basic requirements in seeking loan set forth by the SPCU.

Tan noted a substantial increase in the supply of cassava, coffee, vegetables and other seasonal crops as a result of the cooperative movement in his province.

He said cooperative is for livelihood and human resource development since it enhances the participation and awareness of people in the community towards self-reliance, empowerment, productivity and good governance. (Bong Garcia)