Resilience amid uncertainty
According to a survey conducted by the Philippine Cooperative Authority in 2020, majority of the cooperatives in the country were adversely affected by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduction of their employees, decline in productivity, and decrease in production.
Despite the huge impact on their services, cooperatives are continuing as usual, and most of them have adapted to the new normal. One of them is Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative Quezon 2, a social enterprise partner of the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) in Padre Burgos, Quezon.
Enterprise development continues
Team Aqua, a group of fisherfolks organized by the cooperative successfully carried on operations in their fishponds and fish cages despite limited mobility and disruptions.
“Tuloy-tuloy pa din ang aming trabaho dito sa palaisdaan,” said Enrico de Rama, Team Aqua leader.
While their lapu-lapu market was heavily affected by the pandemic due to the lack of buyers and big drop in price, the fisherfolk continue to be part of the frontline on food security.
The cooperative focused on their banamei or whiteleg shrimp and bangus production to compensate for the struggling sales of their lapu-lapu. They added 43 hectares more of fishpond to increase production. At one point, there was a month that gave them record sales as high as P600,000.
“Ilang buwan ding hindi nabili ang aming mga lapu-lapu dahil hindi kumukuha ang aming buyers, pero malaking bagay samin na lumakas ang aming production sa fishpond,” Nelson Angeles, another Team Aqua member, added.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of Padre Burgos, Gloria Santos, frequently visits Team Aqua for technical support and other assistance.
#CollabWorks with the local government
The partnership with the local government of Padre Burgos has reaped benefits for Yakap at Halik, particularly in its retail store, aquaculture, and its other initiatives.
“Pinayagan ang ating kooperatiba na maghatid ng “essential goods” sa bayan upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan sa Padre Burgos,” Yakap at Halik Management Secretary Angel Quindoza said.
In their aquaculture business, the fisherfolk regularly receive supply of bangus fry from the local Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The stock will be reared by team Aqua until they become fingerlings, which will then be sold to fishpond operators.
According to PEF Senior Area Officer Peter Nabong, these interventions are fruits of the collaboration made with Padre Burgos Mayor Ruben Uy Diokno, who committed to support the fisherfolk members when they visited the community of 2021 Ramon Magsaysay awardee Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.
“Nakikita natin na napakalaking tulong na pinagbuklod natin ang kooperatiba sa lokal na pamahalaan dahil iisa lang naman ang layunin nila na tulungan ang mga mangingisda ng Padre Burgos,” he said.
Other pandemic responses
Adjustments were made in the office set-up of Yakap at Halik in Barangay Walay to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among its employees.
“Lubhang naapektuhan ang aming operasyon nang tumama ang COVID-19 noong 2020,” Yakap at Halik General Manager Armel Amparo said.
From its 200 employees working in their office in March 2020, Yakap at Halik implemented work-from-home set-up to limit face to face interactions. Its leading service, microfinance, was also hit as the cooperative had to comply with the moratorium enacted by the government.
Despite the challenges, the spirit of cooperativism remains with its members. In partnership with PEF, Yakap at Halik was able to distribute relief packs to 1,700 of its members.
“Nakipagtulungan din tayo sa lokal na pamahalaan upang tumulong sa kanilang pamamahagi ng tulong sa Padre Burgos,” Amparo said.
 ‘Effect of COVID-19 among cooperatives’ cda.gov.ph
 Food security, agri-aqua enterprises amid COVID-19 crisis featured in #PEFtalks 3, pef.ph