Top challenges in Philippine agricultural cooperatives


Manila, Philippines -The Generating Rural Opportunities by Working with Cooperatives (GROW Coop) Project funded by USAID and implemented by Agriterra hosted a three-part consultation series on the development of the Agricultural Cooperative Development Agenda (ACDA) last September 14, 20, and 21, 2021. 

Led by Brain Trust, Inc. (BTI), Agriterra’s consultant firm, the second round of virtual consultations gathered nearly 150 representatives from primary cooperatives engaged in agricultural activities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The second round of consultations aimed to provide participants a brief overview of the agriculture and cooperative sectors, and present the draft ACDA to obtain feedback and recommendations. A workshop session facilitated by Agriterra and BTI was included in the event to provide a venue for more detailed discussions on the ACDA.

Challenges in the Agriculture and Cooperative Sector

In the consultation, BTI showed participants two informative videos followed by a set of guide questions wherein the participants’ responses were analysed through an electric polling. The poll contained a list of challenges in the agricultural and agri coop sector and the participants were asked to vote on what they believe were the top three challenges for each sector in terms of priority.

The results of the poll showed that high poverty among farm and fisherfolk households and lagging investment in infrastructure and logistics were the two most pressing issues in the agricultural sector. These were followed by risk in agricultural production due to environmental factors, including climate change.

Other challenges that surfaced during the open forum included the exploitation of products by traders and investor capitalists; agricultural product importation; ineffective crop insurance system alongside lack of other government aid services and benefits; and weak implementation of pro-farmer laws.

Unlike in the first consultation series which targeted coop federation leaders and civil society organisations, management capability and values and governance were the dominant choices. This indicates that bigger cooperatives put more importance on governance and management capability as the main challenges of agri coops, while the primaries themselves see a variety of  challenges as equally important and urgent. 

Uniting toward a common agenda

ACDA promotes the creation of an enabling environment for agri coops in terms of government policies and private sector engagement. The ACDA framework is focused on six areas in agri coop sector development:

  • improving management capability;
  • building scale;
  • knowledge management and policy research;
  • financial reform;
  • sustainability;
  • and values and governance.

By advocating for these reforms, the ACDA and its network of agri coops aim to serve as unifying force to enact effective and lasting impact for the sector. The ACDA initiative complements the objective of the GROW Coop Project funded by USAID and implemented by Agriterra.

GROW Coop aims to expand rural livelihood opportunities and boost rural households’ income by facilitating the development of large, successful cooperatives, federations, and private companies to capacitate smaller agri coops and increase their participation in selected agricultural value chains. The ACDA process was driven by agricultural cooperatives themselves.

The development of ACDA is supported by a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of like-minded organisations that are working toward the improvement and sustainability of agri coops. The ACDA TWG is composed of: AgriCOOPh Federation, Federation of Peoples' Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC), Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) which are the members of the  USAID-funded GROW Coop Consortium; invited organisations: Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC), Nueva Segovia Consortium of Cooperatives (NSCC), Philippines Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA); and the academe represented by the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (ICOPED).

Cresente Paez, Chief Executive Officer of AgriCOOPh Federation said:

“These consultations and discussions with primary cooperatives from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are critical to ensure the inclusive process of developing the Agricultural Cooperative Development Agenda (ACDA). Different issues surfaced which made us realise the need to expand the scope of the agenda to truly touch on the issues of the primary cooperatives working on the ground.”

Christie Rowena Plantilla, Chief Executive Officer of FPSDC said:

“We must not forget the important role of women in shaping the ACDA, and we must ensure there are opportunities for them lead and participate not only in their cooperatives, but contribute on a larger capacity for the agri coop sector.”

Sylvia “Ibing” Paraguya, Natcco CEO said:

“It is crucial that the agri coops are organised to ensure a stronger push in the implementation of this agenda for the sector. We are grateful to all the primary cooperative that participated in these consultations.”

About Agriterra
Agriterra provides high quality, and hands-on advice, training and exchange services, to cooperatives and farmer organisations with maximum impact for socio-economically strong and productive rural areas. Agriterra draws on a century of cooperative knowledge in the Netherlands and the Dutch agri-food sector. In 2020, with 174 employees, Agriterra advises 357 cooperatives in 21 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

About GROW Coop Project
GROW Coop Project is funded by USAID and implemented by Agriterra with the goal of expanding rural livelihood opportunities and boosting rural households’ income by facilitating the development of large, successful local cooperatives, federations, and private companies to become local resource organisations (LROs). LROs provide in-depth mentoring and capacity development, for smaller agri coops so that they can participate more in agricultural value chains. GROW Coop is co-implemented by a consortium of partners which are also the LROs: AgriCOOPh Federation, Federation of People’s Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC), Sorosoro Ibaba Develoment Cooperative (SIDC) and other private companies such as East West Seeds (EWS) and Citicore Candlewick Bioenergy, Inc (CCBI). 

For more information about Agriterra Philippines, email:

Facebook: Agriterra Philippines | Twitter: @AgriterraPh | 

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