Sunday, December 6, 2009

Time for anti-poverty ACTION! Here are our first battlegrounds: Manila slums and Philippine provincial uplands. First let us form our vision:
(1) Families, clans, barkadas (close friends) as 50 groups of 10-50 members per group plan to form one cooperative to set up multi-crop, multi-livestock farms at ten hectares per group. Group members are employees, market stallholders, public transport drivers, overseas Filipinos’ relatives and micro-entrepreneurs. Relatives and friends as one group creates critical trust for quick capitalization of the farms. The group picks a caretaker family from among relatives or friends in need, or among trusted slum families.
(2) Group members contribute P1,000-P20,000 each to raise P100,000 capital for a ten-hectare farm. For local employees, savings and loans from the SSS, GSIS and credit unions help form capital contributions. The group’s elected Treasurer handles the money until target amount is reached.
(3) NGOs and charities set aside part of donations to finance their own ten-hectare farms, and then link up with coops described. An NGO or charity may ultimately set up and operate as many as 20 farms of ten hectares each in several provinces, always with coops. Said farms’ beneficiaries (caretaker families, coop workers and farm guards, crop retailers, food booth sellers) come from slum families that NGOs and charities currently help.
(4) Once the 50 groups raise their P5 million capital, they elect officers, register a coop, and pool their capital into one coop bank account. Pooled capital is necessary to acquire loans. Thereafter the coop hires agribusiness experts to conduct farm systems design and feasibility studies, and leases 500 hectares of uplands from state. The coop uses the lease and studies to get a P5 million state loan, payable 20 years. The loan finances coop purchase of farm machines and processing equipment as follows: hand tractors, rice harvester, crop dryer fueled by rice hulls and corn cobs, mini rice and corn mill, corn shellers, irrigation equipment, brush cutters, rice hull charcoal-making equipment, brown sugar production equipment, and facilities for processing of meats, fruit juices and sweets. The equipment are purchased in stages based on production and marketing needs.
(5) The coop provides water supply services by damming upland streams and installing underground PVC pipes from the dams and towards each farm. Water meters monitor water use. All dams, watersheds and feeder streams get heavily reforested to make sure waters flow year-round to the farms.
(6) To each group farm, the coop lends production facilities and farming tools as follows: bamboo cottage with bamboo beds and furniture, gas lanterns and kitchen utensils, backpack sprayer, shovel, pick, axe, water hose and spray head set, machete, hoe, trowel, steel rod digger, hole digger, hammer, saw, and other farm tools. The coop also provides the caretaker family with four months’ supply of rice, groceries, kerosene and cash allowance. All are payable to the coop within one year.
(7) The coop lends to each group farm the following farm services: brush cutting, plowing and rotavator cultivation, team labor for planting crops and trees, weeding, harvest, drying, and milling of rice, corn and sorghum. Loans are payable after sale of harvest. In this manner, each ten-hectare farm ‘acquires’ cost-cutting farm machines, irrigation equipment, and team labor without the financier group investing additional millions of pesos. Before the first harvests and thereafter, the coop provides teams of police-deputized guards with motorbikes and dogs for service all over the 500-hectare combined farms.
(8) The coop’s upland leases are low slope and high slope areas. To make sure all group farms produce a mix of row crops and forest/fruit trees, the coop splits each farm into 5 hectares of low slope and 5 hectares of high slope. The separate plots may be in different locations. The low slope area gets planted to upland rice (2 hectares) and one hectare each of corn, sorghum and vegetables/fruits (melons, papaya, pineapple, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, peanuts, potatoes, etc.) based on local climatic and soil conditions. Contour cultivation, strip cropping and mulching preserves and enriches the topsoil.

No comments: