The light that LAMPCO brings to farmers
As a liaison officer in San Isidro municipal hall, Loreto Davis, 57, hopes to retire early so he can focus on managing his 1.7-hectare farm with trees of cacao and coconut.
With the falling prices of copra, Davis, a member of Small Coconut Farmers Organization (SCFO) in San Isidro, Davao del Norte has been planting other crops such as cardava banana to cope up with this challenge.
For Davis, the support of cooperatives such as Laak Multipurpose Cooperative (LAMPCO) has been essential in increasing his income.
"Malaki ang tulong nila (LAMPCO). Ang produkto namin, sa kanila namin binebenta. Yung mga fertilizer pati ibang mga ginagamit namin (sa pagsasaka) doon kami kumukuha," he said.
LAMPCO is one of the leading agri-business cooperatives in Davao del Norte that buys coconuts and cacao from farmers, then sells them to institutional buyers like Davao Bay Coconut Oil Mills, Inc., Franklin Baker, and Kennemer Foods International, Inc.
According to LAMPCO Chairman Mario Tipan, the cooperative started in 1986 in Brgy. Mangloy, Laak, Compostela Valley with 15 members aspiring for a simple yet noble objective.
"Walang mabilhan ang mga tao doon. Malayo. (Kaya) naisip nila na gumawa ng maliit na tindahan," he said.
The members were able to collect PHP 700 as a seed capital but unfortunately, their store went bankrupt before it even grew further.
"Kasi hindi nila alam kung paano patakbuhin. Dahil owner sila, nagtitinda sila, wala pang bayad," he added.
Realizing that sound fiscal management is essential in maintaining their store, LAMPCO began fixing their old practices. It eventually caught the attention of the local government, knowing that all their members were local farmers.
“Nagbigay ang local government ng post-harvest facility. Humiram din kami (ng capital) sa DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). Nakita nila na desidido kami mag-grow kasi binayaran din namin ang hiniram namin,” Tipan said.
As their membership increased, LAMPCO opened more branches and merged with other cooperatives in the areas where they operate. They also expanded their services to include granting loans to their members.
More work ahead
At present, LAMPCO now has five major branches and three other satellite branches in Laak and San Isidro Davao del Norte, with consumers, savings & credit and marketing as their main services.
The cooperative is actively participating in the value chain approach for area development of San Isidro with partners, Peace and Equity Foundation, Cocolink, and the local government of the municipality.
To Henry Mayormita, production coordinator of LAMPCO, the cooperative is now focusing on reintroducing their mission to their other members and training a new generation of leaders.
“Magkakakaroon ng capacity building and values formation para sa mga members para maintindihan ang role ng kooperatiba,” he said. We will also develop second-liners in the organization.” he added.
These goals are intended to continue LAMPCO's mission of developing a coop-oriented community and broaden their socio-economic opportunities while caring for the environment.