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Sunday, January 18, 2009

going bananas

Paving the way to prosperity…

One passes through San Roque plying the national highway from New Bataan to the next town of Compostela Valley. It is one of the 17 barangays in the town of New Bataan, and three kilometers from the center accessible by passenger buses, motorcycles, and multi-cabs. In San Roque, one finds the Mapaso, a village at the foot of the mountain; and going up was to cross the river through a hanging bridge.

The area is widely planted to coconut with mostly banana (Cardava) as intercrop. Two springs development projects were constructed by the province and funded by CRS for them to avail of potable water. The village farmers are mono-cropping, slash-and-burn the slopes and planting with corn--denuding the uplands in the way. San Roque has an estimated area of 10,000 hectares considering the irregular terrain of the barangay. Its residents are from Bohol, Cebu, and Leyte, and other places of the country.

Cardava trading…

The Mapaso Small Banana Farmers Cooperative is the only banana trading business in the area. The Coop also provides its members lending and health care.The coop started Cardaba trading in year 2000 to offer equitable prices to banana farmers. Three years after, the coop realized the need to directly link with banana chip processors. It was at this time that the UDP provided assistance in establishing the direct link with the Commodities Corporation (ELCOCO). The company enabled the cooperative to increase its canvassed volume of Cardava from an average of five tons per month to ten tons per month for two years. The coop plans to expand their banana trading to four other nearby villages hoping to generate more jobs in the next three years. From banana dicing, it plans to engage in actual trading of Cardava. However, in most case traders back out from buying their banana, the coop suffers the ‘pain’ and ‘loss’ of looking for other buyers for Cardava, that are left along the streets for pick-up. It teaches them realities of business, as well as, planning ahead for problems they would face in the future.

The surfacing of big markets for Cardava ushered in by the banana chips industry has dash hope for the coop. With the town’s campaign for Cardava production and the mayor’s aggressive promotion in planting 10 hectares of land per village with Cardava, the coop’s goal is more doable now. The coop also provides cash advances to both member and non Cardava growers since 2001 as subsistence money in between harvests. It also set-up a fund for hospitalization, also known as the ‘emergency fund’, seeing the difficulty of its members (excluding non-member) to look for funds to pay their medical expenses in times of need.

From a few hundred pesos working capital in 2001, this gradually increased to about P12, 000.00 pesos in June 2004. As of now, the coop treats cash advances as short-term loans with an interest of 2% per month and a 3% service on a pre-paid basis. The coop’s finances show an improving performance with assets increasing from P9, 396.00 in 2002 to P9, 487.00 in 2003. Assets continue to increase by about 50% from 2004 to present. Aside from this, the coop has no external liabilities except that of the dividends and patronage refunds payable to its members.





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