Negros Oriental cooperative advances through agri-credit and microfinance programs
Twenty-two years ago, in Barangay Bonbonon, seven kilometers from the municipality of Siaton, in Negros Oriental, a group of 13 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) was organized by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) as the Bonbonon Farmers Agrarian Reform Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BOFARMPUCO).
From then on, the cooperative’s meager capital of P3,800.00 has reached P27,958,900.00.
The coop’s struggles started when the Belgian Integrated Agrarian Support Project (BIARSP) granted BOFARMPUCO 20 heads of Carabao in 2001 under its AgriCredit Program.
The organization tried to expand the program but unfortunately due to a lack of system in the collection of accounts, and no proper recording, and monitoring, the cooperative suffered financially. Like a domino, it had affected many aspects of the operation of the business.
In 2005, with new management, the cooperative, challenged by the past failure, accessed credit with an annual interest of 8.5 % from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) for a credit line of P1M intended for Agri-credit re-lending to their members.
“At the start, we felt the need of the members to uplift their lives. We also saw it as an opportunity for an additional service of the cooperative aside from generating jobs for the members,” Edelyn Madal, General Manager of BOFARMPUCO, said.
In the same year, BOFARMPUCO also started its Savings Program with an initial capital of P4,322.00. With more determination and discipline, BOFARMPUCO slowly picked up the pieces and started to rise towards achieving its Vision to be a strong and sustainable Cooperative in Negros Oriental.
With the mission of providing financial and social services for the socio-economic development of the community in Negros Oriental, BOFARMPUCO in 2008 under the World Bank Project, accessed credit from the National Association of Training Centers for Cooperatives (NATCCO) with a credit line of P10M, initially released with P5M in the same year.
By this time, BOFARMPUCO had opened its Siaton branch which was located at the heart of the town.
In the succeeding years, BOFARMPUCO increased its share capital to P22,356,108.38 and savings deposit of P3,570,798.66. The cooperative had to open a collection center in the town of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental in 2011 for those members living in the southern tip of the province.
In 2014, the second year of the implementation of the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), BOFARMPUCO, through the DAR’s assistance had accessed credit through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for crop production with an initial release of P2M. By this time BOFARMPUCO had already 3,356 members with a share capital of P6,941,114.43 and a savings deposit of P10,099,796.23.
They had increased their credit line to P20M in the succeeding years. They had cumulative APCP releases of P26.1M at the end of 2019.
Aside for their APCP Loan, in 2018 BOFARMPUCO also availed of a business loan from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the P3 Program with a 2 % interest per year. Their approved credit line was 20M. As of today, they have a balance of P9.5M.
“As the demand of our clientele increased, our credit line also increased. We never stopped seeking opportunities from the different government credit programs at a lower interest,” Madal said.
As to credit policy implementation, the loanable amount is capacity-based. The coop conducts proper character or background investigations, proper or effective collection, and proper monitoring of accounts.
”We visit the member or borrowers with micro-entrepreneur businesses and also the farms of those who availed of agri-production loan. For those in crop production and business enterprise, we help them increase their income by helping them in their marketing. All of these are stipulated in our policy,” she added.
Today BOFARMPUCO with a maturity level of five, has two branches (Siaton and Manjuyod) and two satellite offices (Sta. Catalina and Zamboanguita) with a total of 33 employees. The cooperative has a total of 7,665 members (5,263 male, 5,263 female) of which 2,154 are ARB members. It has a total asset of P156,874,100.00, a share capital of P27,958,900.00, and savings deposit of P86,460,937.00.
Indeed, with the blessings from above, opportunities knocked to the cooperative not just once, but several times, a precious prize to them for being non-quitters to struggles in life. (By: Joanne R. Tolentino)