Coop extends help to Ifugao town amidst COVID-19

Asipulo, Ifugao - While the whole of Luzon remains under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) because of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic activities of the people are still limited: most businesses are closed, and public transportation continue to be suspended. In the rural areas, supply of essential goods such as food can be in danger of being hampered by the restrictions.

Agriculture is severely affected by the ECQ. Problems such as limited supply of agricultural inputs, supplies, and tools, limited buyers, access to loans, and fluctuating price of basic needs arise.

In Asipulo, Ifugao, the local government granted Hojap Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Hojap MPC) the sole authority to purchase and transport basic supplies for the residents of the town. This set-up also allowed them to help the farmers affected by the ECQ.

“As an authorized purchaser outside Asipulo, we have to ensure that the supplies and tools that the farmers need will not run out. We also buy their produce for additional income”, said Shirley Tagtag, Hojap MPC’s general manager.

According to their arrangement with the LGU, Hojap MPC will buy PHP 4 million worth of rice while the quarantine is still in place. The local government will then buy the rice and other essential goods from the cooperative for relief efforts.

With an interest-free loan from PEF, Hojap was able to bring rice to 1,455 households, which is equivalent to half of Asipulo’s population, some of them farmer-members of the cooperative.

Continuous operation                                                                     

“Despite the ECQ, our consumers stores have also remained in regular operation to serve the basic needs of the communities,” Ms. Tagtag said.

Hojap MPC is an established cooperative in barangay Haliap, Asipulo. Aside from consumer stores, the cooperative is known for their coffee products, which are shipped to other provinces and Metro Manila.

Their main office remains open in a skeleton workforce scheme for their members’ savings transaction.