“We want to take advantage of the setting up of a cold storage facility… as this can help our small business,” said Jesus Gioca, Sr., President of the Daliao Small Fisherfolk Association, Inc. (DSFAI). The 167-member organization plans to establish a small fish trading business but they need capital to launch the business.The DSFAI’s plans highlight the potential generated by the establishment of a five-hectare Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (APTC) inside the 25-hectare Davao Food Exchange Complex (DFEC) in Daliao, Toril that will be developed in the next two years.“P100,000 in capital will be a big help for us as we will use it to buy reject fish products which we will process and later sell to the market,” he said.Mr. Gioca said boatloads of fish products arrive at the Davao Fish Port, destined the canneries and the export market, but not all of the fish is used. The group plans to buy up the excess fish, estimated at up to 300 kilograms daily.
He said the additional livelihood opportunity will increase the fisherfolks’ income as well as sustain the business acitivity of the association.
Councilor April Marie C. Dayap, chair of the Committee on Cooperative Development, said the City Cooperative Office has allotted P3 million as financial assistance for cooperatives and the DSFAI has applied for accreditation with the City Council to avail of the grants.
A cooperative has to be accredited by the City Council before it can apply for a cash assistance and livelihood grant of between P100,000 to P300,000. The loan is payable in three years, with zero interest.
Accredited cooperatives are required to submit a project or business proposal so that the City Cooperative Office (CCO) can review the feasibility of the project and the cooperative’s ability to pay. The CCO is pushing for an increase in the cash assistance within the P200,000 to P300,000 range to help cooperatives and their members.
Up to 600 cooperatives have registered with the Cooperative Development Authority as of last year but only 505 are classified as active cooperatives. Not all of these cooperatives are however accredited by the city so not all of them can avail of the assistance.
Aside from DSFAI, other small and micro cooperatives in the city have also applied for financial assistance including Ubalde Traders Cooperative financial aid, GK Pueblo Cooperatives, San Isidro Consumers Cooperatives and Progressive Highlands Multi-Purpose Cooperatives for a P300,000 grant and F. Bangoy Teachers Cooperative for a P200,000 grant.
The Davao Food Exchange Complex (DFEC) is a project of the local government with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture.
“We are just waiting for the final approval of the city government for the lease of the five hectare land for the APTC,” said Ma. Lourdes F. Rebueno, General Manager of the National Development Company (NDC) which owns the property where the Complex will be located.
NDC has approved the proposed master plan for the Complex and is waiting for the feasibility study undertaken by Schema Konsult for the development, which is being targeted for release this month.
Ms. Rebueno said the Center, with an estimated cost of P200 million, will include a food processing center, cold storage and warehouse facilities, technology and business incubation center, trading post, agri-aqua culture, tourism component and a water filtration and bottling facility. The Center is however far from the major seaports and airport in the city so there is a need for the local government to imrpove the access road leading to the site.
Several suppliers and potential locators have expressed their interest to invest in vertical facilities for fresh and processed fruits. The NDC has surveyed 200 possible producers in the city and found out that 95% of them are capable of supplying the Center with up to 60,114 metric tons of agricultural products per year.
Two options are being considered for the development of the project: for NDC to undertake horizontal development to include the development of the land according to the master plan and then lease the developed land to locators on a long-term basis subject to a one-year advance lease payment; and for NDC to lease out the land on an “as-is-where-is” basis to a private developer who will take charge of the horizontal development subject to a profit-sharing scheme.
“The APTC is targeted for completion late next year or early 2017 but the whole Center will be completed by late 2017,” Ms. Rebueno said.
“The APTC is designed to enable farmers to skip through the layers of middlemen so they can access lucrative markets for their produce and increase their sales in the process,” said Councilor Marissa S. Abella, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food. The APTC shall serve as the anchor and the catalyst for the NDC’s proposed DFEC project.