Recently, we visited a farmers co-op somewhere in Central Luzon. Most of the members are rice farmers but it grew to more than a half-billion peso enterprise. Believe it or not, there are quite a number of them who have a million peso savings or more in the co-op. Being aware of the situation of farmers in general, the farmers in this part of the country are privileged. Some of them are even millionaires. And they are proud of their achievements.
This co-op has a warehouse that can store thousands of sacks of rice that will last until the next harvest. Their big rice mills and modern drying machines impressed me in a great way. They likewise sell sacks of rice by the thousands nationwide. Now this, they can even afford to provide zero-interest for agricultural loans to their members.
Everytime I get to see successful co-ops I am becoming more convinced that I am in the right tract as far as my chosen career path is concerned. The job I have right now serving the co-op sector was originally just for the sake of curiosity but my curiosity led me to the discovery of how amazing the co-op is.
I entered government service via the Cooperative Development Authority. It’s not a popular agency. Someone even mentioned, it is an “unknown office” but it is serving a lot of people from all walks of life and not just limited a specific class of people.
I discovered that cooperativism is beacon a beacon of hope for the hopeless and the downtrodden. It is giving the poor and the underprivileged the opportunity for a better life. Although there some people who use the co-op to take advantage of others, this does not alter my position on co-ops being one of the best instrument for a better quality of life for every Filipino. This is because I have seen and heard people telling their inspiring co-op experience.
I have also heard people who do the exact opposite of what a co-op should be. The are people who, because of their uncontrolled greed, focused on what they can get for themselves only and not for the good of everybody. Still, there are people who look for every means possible to skim off from the co-op coffers or dipping their hands inside the cookie jar, just to feed their lavish lifestyle, depriving the other members of their benefits. Others have vices to satisfy, so they sacrifice their character and reputation in exchange for a few peso they pocket out from the members’ money.
But I still believe in co-ops.