Soaring by swine production, reclaiming Hungduan farmers’ livelihood

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With the devastating effects of the typhoon that hit most of the northern regions of Luzon in 2015, almost 85% of the farmers’ source of livelihood in the municipality of Hungduan, Ifugao were damaged like the rest of the Cordillera provinces and municipalities. Rice terraces, vegetable gardens, forest lands, and several infrastructures were damaged leaving the community in economic distress.

As they strive to revive their production areas, the Hungduan Micro Finance Development Cooperative (HMFDC) took an initiative to help its members revive their livelihood and augment their losses.

HMFDC Manager Evelyn Biniahan shared that majority of their members took loans from the cooperative during that time.

“Bumagsak ang kanilang kabuhayan dahil sa bagyong nanalasa noong 2015, kaya nag-loan sila sa kooperatiba upang matustusan ang pangangailangan ng kanilang mga pamilya at makabawi sa nasira nilang pananim,” Biniahan said.

The HMFDC is a primary organization that was initiated by the CECAP in 1997, and has gradually evolved into a Savings and Loan Association in the late 2000. They finally registered as a micro-finance cooperative in October 2003 with an initial membership of 48.

Since then, the cooperative focused on developing available resources in the community, strengthening the financial capacity of its members, and capacitating its members and/or the community to manage resources and create services for their mutual benefits.

To date, the HMFDC was able to increase its members to 1,132 after opening its doors to interested farmers from neighboring municipalities. While the majority of their members are rice farmers, many of them have also invested in swine raising as an additional source of income.

Because of the consistently rising demand for pork, the HMFDC proposed for a micro enterprise subproject under the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) to support typhoon-affected farmer-members and provide an alternative or additional source of income.

“Nahirapan kaming maningil ng bayad sa iba naming mga myembro kaya naisip naming mag-propose ng ganitong livelihood upang matulungan sila,” Biniahan shared.

As part of their enterprise subproject, 150 heads of piglets were initially given to the cooperative in 2018, including 22 sacks of starter feeds, 252 sacks of grower feeds, and 144 sacks of finisher feeds. These were delivered to them in tranches and were distributed to eligible members of the cooperative.

“Ngayon, nasa ikapitong ikot na ang karamihan sa mga myembrong nabigyan ng piglets noong 2018, at nagkaroon na rin sila ng inahing baboy para sila na mismo ang magpadami,” she added.

Biniahan further said that the members were able to pay off their loans and they even expanded their backyard pig production. Meanwhile, the other members opted to return the full investment cost of the piglets and feeds they received to the HMFDC for other members to benefit as well, and continued their swine raising venture at their own expense.

As for their income, an amount ranging from PhP3, 000.00 to PhP4, 000.00 is reportedly gained by the member excluding expenses. To sustain the project, the cooperative collects one percent from the total sales of each recipient as capital build-up, aside from the total investment cost provided.

After realizing continuous gains, the cooperative envisions expanding its business for future endeavors of the enterprise. Biniahan said that the cooperative plans to engage in meat processing and establish a common slaughterhouse for food safety purposes and to consolidate and market the pigs of their members.

“As Hellen Kelelr quoted, ‘alone we can do little; together we can do as much’, the spirit of cooperativism have contributed greatly to the economic boost of our farmers,” Biniahan concluded. By Elvy T. Estacio