AGRI TRENDS: Boosting Banana Enterprise in Agusan Town

Veruela, Agusan del Sur-Despite the distance of their farms and the danger of crossing a raging river, farmers here continue to work hand-in-hand to uplift their livelihood, banana production.

Members of Kinabugawan Farmers Produces Cooperative (KIFAPCO) have labored very hard for a long time but they could barely keep up the marketing due to lack of capital.

“Our cooperative cannot accommodate all the banana products sold to us by our members since we don’t have that much capital. The services and benefits we could offer to them are also limited due to lack of finances,” said farmer Maricel Bautista the KIFAPCO Secretary.

But things changed when their business proposal under the Philippine Rural Development Project was approved. The KIFAPCO’s banana production and marketing enterprise project amounting to P928,595.13 will establish for them a two hectare banana lakatan plantation as expansion to the existing 13 hectares lakatan area; and a buying station equipped with weighing scale and other tools, plus some operational funds for its banana production and trading business.

“When the project from PRDP started, our members are really happy since they are now assured of the buying station where they can sell their banana. The low buying price of our product has been one of our problems here but with the support we received, the cooperative can now improve the services to its members. They will get better price and they will also have their own share from the cooperative,” added Bautista.

As of now, the establishment of the two-hectare lakatan production plantation is currently on going while construction of buying station will begin soon with support and supervision from the local government unit of Veruela.

“We thank PRDP for the intervention. The buying station will eliminate the damages of the bananas being delivered here by our members and at the same time the transportation and labor cost in hauling their farm produce will also lessen,” said Bautista.

Before, most farmers here focused on growing Falcata but only they are encouraged to intercrop banana with their existing trees in the farm.

The on-going project also provided additional income to their members.

“The time when PRDP’s intervention came, our cooperative gradually progressed. Our members were given work and had additional income,” said KIFAPCO Manager Rene Garsenal.

“The KIFAPCO members are very much excited to see the completion of the project as they are expecting more projects and activities from our cooperative,” added Garsenal.

With the assistance of PRDP’s Investments for Rural Enterprise and Agricultural and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) component, members of the cooperative become motivated to work hard in their farms and more farmers are encouraged to join in the cooperative.  (Joy M. Montecalvo, PSO Mindanao InfoACE Unit)