Transforming Mindanao thru cooperatives PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 00:00

Are you a member of any cooperative? Do you know that cooperatives are significant economic and social factors of our country? It is being recognized worldwide as a compelling model of business enterprises because of its peculiar character. In cooperatives, people can pursue both the economic viability and social responsibility as an organization.

Cooperative pools together resources and harness collective potentials and experiences of people to help one another for a common good. What is noteworthy of a cooperative it encompasses all sectors of the society particularly those coming from the poor and disadvantaged sectors. It is mostly composed of government employees, common private workers, teachers, farmers, fishermen, small vendors, people with disabilities, the military, indigenous groups, and even the Moro National Liberation Front I read has now a cooperative. It seeks a better life for cooperative members, their families, and their communities.

Cooperative, generally, have grown and prospered through self-help, mutuality and service to the members as their prime objective. Presently, our country has more than twenty thousand cooperatives with combined assets of PHP 158.6 billion. It is a significant player in our country’s economic development. 

In Japan, agricultural cooperatives generate outputs of USD 90 billion, with 91% of farmers being members of cooperatives. In 2007, Japan’s consumer cooperatives had a total turnover of USD 34 billion and a food market share of 6%. In South Korea, 90% of farmers are members of agricultural cooperatives which have outputs of USD 11 billion. Korea’s fishery cooperatives have a market share of 71%. In Vietnam, cooperatives contribute 8.6% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Cooperatives also help in generating and maintaining employment. One hundred million jobs worldwide are provided by cooperatives, 20% more than multinational enterprises. In the United States, 30,000 cooperatives provide more than 2 million jobs. In Canada, over 155,000 are employed by the sector. In Indonesia, cooperatives provide jobs to 288,600 individuals.

As our country celebrate cooperative month this October, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in coordination with the Western Mindanao Federation of Cooperatives (WMFC) held a summit yesterday, “Zamboanga City Cooperative Summit,” to update all cooperative members what’s new and address all concerns affecting its growth. It enjoins cooperative to strengthen and enhance its organization by increasing memberships.

This year’s theme is “Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace” focus not only in development of people and attaining prosperity but also the influence of cooperative to the planet and to peace. CDA Director Orlando Ravanera must be active in protecting their environment as he warns that global warming will affect food production that will eventually everybody. Since cooperative promote equality and aims to reduce poverty, Ravanera surmised, in effect, cooperative is building peace. It brings social justice and prosperity.

Despite its richness in natural resources and tagged as the food basket of the Philippines, Mindanao is still the poorest among the 3 big islands of our country. Ravanera revealed that Mindanao can overcome poverty by empowering Mindanawons. He cited as an example are our poor local farmers. They tilt the land, perspire under the heat of the sun, and do the harvest, yet, they remain poor. The ones who are benefitting most are the middle men and the business people.

The solution for farmers to enrich themselves is to form a cooperative, Ravanera said. The other rich resources that Mindanao to tap is its natural hydro power source, he said.  Cooperative is one way to tap the potentials of Mindanao to the direct benefits of its people. It will awaken the hearts and empower people to care not only for themselves but also for others.

Zamcelco is not real legitimate cooperative if it refuses to be accountable to the people of Zamboanga City.

By Dante Corteza