|Vegetable Associations Help Transform Industry in Mindanao|
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CAGAYAN DE ORO—When Marcelino Remotigue got word that his growers’ association was highlighted in the World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report, in “Agriculture for Development,” he couldn’t help musing over how far they’d come.
Just a few years ago, the Northern Mindanao Vegetable Producers’ Association (NorMinVeggies) was a group of mostly smallhold farmers struggling to supply local wet markets.
In 2002, however, with Remotigue as its president, the group began implementing a groundbreaking farming system that has boosted the stock of NorMinVeggies members and helped revolutionize vegetable production across Mindanao.
Today NorMinVeggies ships approximately 50 metric tons (MT) of high-value, semi-temperate vegetables weekly to major fast-food chains, hotels and supermarkets in Cebu and other parts of the country.
The group now has 155 grower-members, including corporations, cooperatives and individually-owned farms, with actual and potential growing areas totaling approximately 1,500 hectares.
NORMINVeggies’ success, which has earned the group a citation for excellence from Malacañang, has led vegetable growers across Mindanao to adopt the group’s production system.
Further south, in Davao City, retired corporate executive Roger Gualberto leafs through the ledger of the Maharlika Farmers Cooperative, which he co-founded. He is pleased with the current month’s figures, which show a marked increase in production volumes.
Gualberto heads the Vegetable Industry Council of Southern Mindanao (VICSMIN), an umbrella organization of producer associations. VICSMIN has 104 grower-members, with actual and potential production areas totaling more than 2,000 hectares.
Both NorMinVeggies and VICSMIN, working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, have led efforts to introduce best farming practices among Mindanao growers and expand their markets.
Both organizations are founding members of the Philippine Vegetable Industry Development Board, and will be spearheading the Mindanao Vegetable Congress this October 2008, in Koronadal, South Cotabato.
Consolidation is the key
When NorminVeggies was formed in 1999, its members knew they were up against more established competitors in the Philippine vegetable industry, including corporate farms with access to resources and advanced production technologies.
The association members were initially unable to meet the strict quality requirements of institutional buyers. Even their buyers in local wet markets had to discard as much as 25 percent of vegetable deliveries due to damage during shipment.