The inevitable rise of DAR’s pride, ALMUCO (Alipao Multipurpose Cooperative)

ALIPAO MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE [ALMUCO] is already fourteen years of existence, which is a proof of great resiliency. The rise of ALMUCO is a hallmark of a successful peoples’ organization in the community when full support is being provided by the Department of Agrarian Reform. The watchful eyes of the DAR regional officials have gained a remarkable support from the national and foreign partners quickly emerged, putting ALMUCO in the limelight of the cooperative movement who would have thought that a lovely cooperative with only 21 members and a Capital Build Up of Five Thousand Pesos Only would be this big, today?

Cooperative remained but also struggled for survival. The coop on its way to bankruptcy. It was on June 1993 that DAR came into the scene by reorganizing and revitalizing the coop through the Farmers Cooperative Development Exchange Program [FCDEP] in partnership with MASS-SPECC. The Samahang Nayon Organization that has an existing capital of Php 16,000.00 merged with ALMUCO and the total paid up capital amounted to Php 21,000.00. It was quite an amount to start a modest consumers’ business in a barangay setting. The Department of Agrarian Reform did not stop giving technical assistance to the coop and its members. A series of trainings/seminars for capability building given to all members and officials were conducted to strengthen the coop’s viability. The following are the seminars:

1. Training on Basic Information and Communication Technology
2. Business Planning Workshop- 2006
3. Conduct of Information and Communication Technology II
4. Training on Farmers Trade School IPM-KASAKALIKASAN
5. Hands-on training on the use of ICT-Based materials for farmers, a convergence activity by Philrice, DAR-Development Academy of the Philippines, DOST, PCARRD/Local Government Unit-Alegria- September 2007
6. Cooperative Information System [CIS] training workshop- November 2007
7. Learning session on strengthening governance for e-AGRIkultura Center Operation & Management- April 2008
8. Local Study Mission, Davao City - April 29, 2008
9. One delegate for International Study Mission to India- September 11-17,2008

In the year 2000, the members quadrupled and the total CBU reached to Php 115,000.00. Thereon, there’s no turning back for ALMUCO. The coop has accessed funds from the Jose De Venecia [JDV] amounting to Php 40,000.00 which was added to the working capital for the consumers business. To date the consumer store has a gross income of Php 554,723.29. The coop was chosen as ARC-wide coop and they become recipient of the Agri-Support Project of DAR-ARISP II.

The package was Post Harvest Facilities amounting to 647,478.30 which was utilized for the construction of a 700 cavans capacity warehouse , a solar dryer and agri-development support funds for rice production, palay trading, farm inputs trading and swine raising amounting to Php 313,478.00.

The coop was able to generate a total of Php 39,000.00 from the operation of this business. ALMUCO does not only operate purely on business, but also service to its members, thus they agreed to be the partner institution of IFAD-NMCIREMP to handle the livelihood project, Self Help Group [SHGs].

They managed the Php 49,000.00 seed fund without gaining income just purely services. In 2004, The KALAHI Farmers center through K-Agrinet has a total income of Php 12,439.79.

The latest project is the e-AGRIkultura Center through information and knowledge networking. The beneficiaries of this are the following: Coop leaders and officers, Fisherfolk coop, Agribusiness owners and entrepreneurs and other net users. But being an awardee of the e-AGRIK Center did not just come like a gift. It was earned. Hard work on the part of the coop has paid off because they were not the only coop that was screened to qualify as beneficiary of said knowledge networking. There were other two coops. Series of tests were given, validations were conducted.

They passed the following tests: Technical feasibility, organizational management, financial sustainability and market potential. True enough, ALMUCO has proven that they stand out and lived up to the expectations of many and finally said e-AGRIKultura Center has been awarded to them with the following ICT Hardwares and softwares which are very much of help to the beneficiaries mentioned above:

*three desktop computers installed with XP, Microsoft Office and Norton anti-Virus 2005
*computer table and chair for each computer set
*one ink jet printer
*one web camera
*one scanner
*one digital camera
*one desktop photocopier
*one photocopying machine

And the said center offers the following services:
- encoding
- CD writing/burning
- Scanning
- Photocopying
- Video coverage for:
*wedding, birthday, graduation/closing exercises
- tutorial session for farmers

All those services are regularly patronized/availed of by the farmers and students and non farmers thereby, adding income to the cooperative. To date the operational income amounts to Php 12,439.79.

In 2007, the ALMUCO was awarded the MOST PROGRESSIVE COOPERATIVE in Surigao del Norte and in 2008 the MOST OUTSTANDING AGRARIAN REFORM BENEFICIARY ORGANIZATION in CARAGA. These awards prove how ALMUCO, as an ordinary farmer’s cooperative has risen to the top and reached the standards of an outstanding cooperative.
To date the ALMUCO has 165 members. 83 of which are Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries [ARBs] , 37 non ARBs and 4 associates and with an asset of almost 2.5 Million and still counting!

Members are availing services for livelihood programs and are receiving dividends, patronage refunds and they are enjoying trainings relative to the improvement of the cooperative as well.

The officers and members of the cooperative however do not just attribute the success to themselves but to the Department of Agrarian Reform which initiated the coop and which have all the way supported the same through its programs, special projects and trainings and moral support. According to them: “Had it not been for the Department of Agrarian Reform, ALMUCO would not have been this successful.” (Melencio “Dodong” Migullas,Jr., DAR-Province of Surigao del Norte)

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