Women’s Group to receive 1st SLP in Ilocos Region

Women’s Unity for Progress and Farmers MPC gives PRDP a thumbs-up with RPCO 1 I-SUPPORT Component Head Sharon Viloria, after obtaining No Objection Letter 2 (NOL2) for their Farm Mechanization Service Facility Small Livelihood Project (SLP) proposal.

When Typhoon Lando struck Luzon in 2015, the farmers of Women’s Unity for Progress and Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Barangay Primicias, Mapandan, Pangasinan were among the most affected. Their crops were drowned by the excessive rain and floods. The typhoon washed away their families’ livelihood.

Through the Municipal Agricultural Fishery Council Coordinator of Mapandan, Mr. Romeo Villanueva, the Cooperative learned about the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) and its Small Livelihood Project (SLP). The SLP is the Project’s response to mitigate the detrimental effects of Typhoon Lando among farmers in areas which declared a State of Calamity.

The Cooperative underwent rigorous processes of submissions and approval. Their SLP proposal entitled “Farm Mechanization Service Facility” was approved last December 15, 2015. But the No Objection Letter 2 (NOL 2), which signals the awarding of the procurement of the subproject to a winning bidder, was only issued on December 28, 2016.

Through PRDP, the Cooperative will receive a four-wheel tractor, rotavator, cage roller, and trailer to aid their farm operations and increase the income of their farmer members.

The Women’s Unity for Progress and Farmers MPC was formed in 2004, comprised by a group of housewives and farm women to access initially dole-out programs of various government agencies. Ms. Anabel Meneses, the Cooperative’s Manager, however, clarified that they aim for the Cooperative to prosper and grow since the beginning. “… The goal is not a one-time transaction..,” she said.

Women’s Unity started with 40 women members which now have grown into 198 members. Their members are still mostly women with 114 females and 84 males. Ms. Meneses recounted one instance when they were almost deprived access to farm equipment because their members are mostly women. “Nag-re-request kang four-wheel tractor, eh, puro kayo babae. Paano niyo imamaneho? (You are requesting four-wheel tractor while you are all females. How will you drive it?,” they were told.

After proving that they have existing agricultural operations, however, the Cooperative was still able to access the farm equipment. “Oo mga babae kami, pero itong mga babae na ito, ang mga asawa mga farmer (Yes, we are females, but we have husbands who are farmers.),” Ms. Meneses added.

The Cooperative has also a very successful catering business. According to Ms. Meneses, the catering business started with a P54,000 capital awarded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). After three years, the catering business continuously grew. The Cooperative applied for assistance from the same agency for business enhancement. It was granted and they received another P260,000. The Cooperative’s catering business even won three consecutive grand champion awards in barangay cooking fests.

As most members belong to a family whose earnings mainly come from agriculture, the Cooperative chose to propose a Farm Mechanization Service Facility. “Sixty to 70 percent of our farmer members depend largely on irrigation. Kapag may tubig, sabay-sabay na,(When there is water, everyone needs a tractor.)”Ms. Meneses explained. “We have one tractor, pero hindi sapat. (We have one tractor, but that is not enough.)” One tractor would not suffice to cater the needs of the farmer members.

At the very least, the tractor is expected to decrease the expenses incurred by farmers during land preparation. According to Ms. Meneses, “Kung sa labas, kung Php3,000 ang per hectare, iyong buo ang babayaran. Pero kung sa Coop, meron silang discount or sa anihan na babayaran.” (When we rent tractor from outside the Cooperative, we pay the service charge Php 3,000 per hectare. But if we rent the tractor owned by the Cooperative, the members will have discount or even be allowed to pay after harvest.)

“Noon sa munisipyo, madalas pinagtatawanan kami. Sabi nila, ‘Nandiyan na naman sila.Masisipag mag-solicit’,” (Before when we visit the Municipal Hall, we usually got laughed at. They tell us, ‘There they go again, people who zealously solicit.’) Ms. Meneses remembered.

With all the harsh remarks they endured to hear from people who had wrong perception of an active cooperative, Ms. Meneses said it did nothing but bolster more their confidence to pursue projects for their cooperative. In fact, it was worth it because not only are they able to access modern farm equipment, they were also able to learn a lot from participating in the project like PRDP.

“Sobrang dami ng natutunan namin sa PRDP. Kahit sa simpleng paggawa ng project proposal, pag compute ng tamang Return on Investment (ROI), lahat ‘yon natutunan naming, para kaming bumalik sa pag-aaral, kaya noong na-approve ‘yong proposal namin at nabigyan ito ng No Objection Letter, para kaming nag-graduate with honors. Iba talaga ang PRDP.” (We learned a lot from PRDP, from simply drafting our project proposal to correct computation of our ROI, it’s like we went back to school. That’s why when our project proposal was approved, it’s as if we graduated with honors! PRDP is indeed very different!), she beamed with pride.

Today, the Cooperative has accessed different government projects which now include PRDP. The four-wheel tractor with complete accessories is for delivery to the Cooperative. The Province of Pangasinan provided the 10 percent counterpart and facilitated the procurement of the tractor.

For the Women’s Unity for Progress and Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, it pays to be patient and determined, as they say, no guts no glory! ###Ilocos InfoACE

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