The cooperative provides a reliable market outlet for about 1,600 marginal producers of native bananas who cultivate on 500 hectares of indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands. Each Manobo farmer harvests nearly 100 kilos every 15 days. As a trader and consolidator, Magirco buys up to 40 metric tons of bananas daily from its farmer-members. The product is processed by its factory into “first fry” unsweetened banana chips from the saba and cardava varieties. Magirco buyers do the second frying and sweetening prior to shipping the finished goods. Banana chips are in demand in about 30 countries with the US and Europe as major importers followed by Japan and China.
Magirco’s premium buying price per kilo puts cash steadily in the hands of farmers. The cooperative has become a reliable vehicle for inclusive growth and rural economic expansion, with a multiplier effect that extends beyond Magpet to neighboring communities of Kidapawan City, Makilala, New Cebu and Mlang. About 80% of the 120 factory workers are women. The banana operation itself is an assured market of another Magirco business in cooking oil trading and distribution. Magirco has previously borrowed and fully paid loans from PEF. Future Magpet Agro Industrial Cooperative (formerly Magpet Integrated Rubber Cooperative) was founded by small farmers in 1987 to consolidate their products and take advantage of volume-based incentives from buyers. From its beginnings in selling raw rubber clumps, the cooperative ventured into copra and has become a supplier to a major cooking oil manufacturer. It started producing first fry banana chips in 2009. Magirco also provides agricultural production loans to its members.
The cooperative aspires for the socio-economic upliftment of its members and their communities through self-reliance. Milestones, accomplishments and credibility built over the years have made it the leading marketing cooperative in North Cotabato and perhaps the entire Region 12. Funding could help it realize industrial plant improvements to achieve optimum efficiency and hurdle quality certifications.
Magirco also plans to turn its 24 tons of plant waste daily, consisting mostly of banana peels and rice hull ashes, into organic fertilizer for use in the coop members’ banana farms to reduce the environmental impact of the enterprise.
Additional working capital will enable the cooperative to boost production in its factory which currently runs at 32% capacity. Magirco has considered getting into the second fry or sweetened banana chips in the future although the bulk of production will be dedicated to first fry because it already maintains strong business relationship in the supply chain.