With the aim of taking their cooperation to the next level, agricultural cooperative specialist Agriterra and Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC), the biggest primary agricultural cooperative in the Philippines, signed a cooperation agreement for 2022 under the Dutch government-supported Farmer Focused Transformation programme and renewed its partnership for the deployment of experts called Agripoolers from the cooperative to other clients of Agriterra.
In the ceremony hosted by SIDC at its very own Sorosoro Springs in Sorosoro-Ibaba, Batangas, both organisations vowed to work together more closely in bringing the benefits of the cooperative approach to more farmers in the country and beyond.
The SIDC delegation was composed of its Chairperson Dr. Angelito Bagui, Vice Chairperson Eddie Dimaano, Board member Elsa Geron, Board member Remedios Casas, CEO Cong. Rico B. Geron, Vice President Bon Ian dela Roca, Assistant Vice President for Reach Margarita Faral, Assistant Vice President for Revenue Dr. Nino Jesus Bagui, Assistant Vice President for Return Noel Datinguinoo, and New Business Specialists Miko Factor and Jeremy Abraham.
The Agriterra delegation, on the other hand, was composed of its CEO Marco Schouten, Regional Manager for Asia Philip Morey, Philippine Country Representative Ma. Teresa Tumbali and SIDC’s lead Business Advisor Jun Virola.
SIDC has been a client of Agriterra since 2018, after a cooperative assessment with Agriterra’s business advisors and Agripoolers Pierre Berntsen of ABN-AMRO and Jan Kamphof of Agrifirm. SIDC has received various advice for its various businesses, chief of which are the feed mill, livestock and crop production under the Revenue group; coop mart, supermart, one stop shop under the Reach group, and loans and savings under the Return group.
These advices, as well as training services and exchanges, contributed to the results achieved by SIDC in the last 4 years, which all lead to the realisation of its big hairy audacious goal or BHAG that includes the three Rs of Reach (increasing membership from 27,000 to 50,000), Revenue (increasing turnover by 20%) and Return (increasing net margin by 5%).
In 2019, SIDC established an additional feed mill in Palawan to expand its operation and offer its feeds to more farmers in the province. This new value adding enterprise was the subject of Agriterra’s advice and feasibility study support. To further optimise its feed formulation and management of its livestock business, an advisory mission by Agriterra’s Agripooler Jan Fledderus of the Dutch cooperative ForFarmers was organised in 2018.
In 2021, it set up 14 new retail outlets to serve the needs of its members, thus bringing the total to 50. SIDC attributes a large part of this result to the advice of Agriterra to use a focused strategy for its expansion and supported by a strategic sales and marketing plan. An advisory mission by Agritera’s Agripooler Suad Ekrem Sadak of Dutch cooperative Agrico’s joint venture company Ar Tarim supported this effort.
Also in 2021, it reported an increase in its level of internal capitalisation through its investment programs for members, which allowed them to buy preferred shares. The increase was also partly attributed to the internal capitalisation training introduced by Agriterra.
The loans and savings business of SIDC, called Koopinoy, is also renewing its process and sytems, to support its continued expansion to offer financial services to members, especially farmers who need production loan for their livestock and crop production. This was the subject of an advisory mission by Agritera’s Agripoolers Hans van Zuijdam of Rabobank and Xiaolan Yu of ABN-AMRO.
Since 2020, SIDC has also become a Local Resource Organization for the USAID-funded GROW Coop project being implemented by Agriterra in the Philippines. Through this project, SIDC is introducing the yellow corn production business to cooperatives and farmers in Mindanao as well as in parts of Visayas and Luzon, supported by the agro enterprise clustering approach introduced by Agriterra. Yellow corn is the main raw material for the production of animal feeds, which is the biggest business of SIDC.
This is aligned with the plan of SIDC to set up a grains terminal in Batangas to hold a bigger volume of yellow corn to supply its feed mill as well as other feed mills in the region. This is a game changing move that was also the subject of an advisory mission by Agriterra’s Agripooler Jan Kamphof, formerly of Dutch cooperative enterprise Agrifirm. At present, SIDC has 4 silos in Balagtas, which can hold up to 8 metric tons of yellow corn.
Since the start of the cooperation with Agriterra, SIDC has seen a lot of progress, notably the increase of its membership from 27,000 to 56,770 as of April this year. Its total share capital now reaches P1.005 B, assets P5.2 B, savings mobilisation P1.5 B, and loan portfolio P2.04 B. It employs 1,572 individuals for its various businesses and support services.
The partnership with Agriterra has evolved quickly in the past 4 years, as SIDC joined Agriterra’s pool of Agripoolers in 2019, where it committed to deploy cooperative expertise to advisory missions organised by Agriterra for cooperative clients in the country and in the Asian region.
This Agripool partnership is being renewed as a testament to the enduring success of SIDC and a recognition of its unique role as a model for cooperative business in the agriculture sector. Agriterra is also looking to support SIDC in becoming a center of excellence for cooperatives in the country and in the region.
SIDC, which received the Top Client award in 2019, looks forward to continuing its structured expansion with the support of Agriterra as both organisations share a vision of strong and professional agricultural cooperatives serving the needs of farmer members and providing opportunities to the rural communities.
The two organisations agreed to level up their cooperation and maximize opportunities for partnership with government, donors and other development actors.