Cooperatives are designed to help improve the quality of life of its members. Over the years, Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) has lived up to this purpose. SIDC has been a model for good governance and it has continually proved that a group of people can initiate change and improve the lives of many.
The feedmill served as SIDC's engine of growth with 9,000 bags of hog, poultry, fish mash, and pellet feeds produced daily.
Soro-soro Ibaba is a barangay in the eastern part of Batangas City, Philippines. SIDC began as a small consumer cooperative in the area and climbed up the ranks to become the leading agricultural cooperative in the Philippines.
Dr. David King, SIDC consultant, said that the SIDC approach to agribusiness development is geared towards providing opportunities through the cooperative to small farmers and entrepreneurs, who on their own, would not be able to compete with large scale, commercially-financed, and corporately-backed enterprises.
Turning 41 this March 2010, SIDC has faced a number of challenges during its development process. It was established as Sorosoro Ibaba Farmers' Association on March 19, 1969 led by Mr. Victoriano E. Barte who acted as President and General Manager. The association started with 59 members who voluntarily contributed Php200 each for start-up capital of Php 11,800. This was used to construct a store that offered basic commodities. As some pioneer members had started poultry and hog raising, it also sold feeds and other veterinary products. The association became a dealer of different goods; products were offered at low prices.
This initial success attracted more members large enough for the organization to qualify as a full-fledged cooperative. It was registered with the then Ministry of Agriculture as a development cooperative in November 1978 where it adopted the name Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative, Inc. (SIDCI). SIDC dropped the "I" starting 1997.
Diverse Products and Services
Feed mill. The feed mill served as SIDC's engine of growth. It was constructed in 1987. At present, its average daily production is 9,000 bags of hog, poultry, fish mash, and pellet feeds. The feed mill's operation is semi-computerized and it also has mechanized corn storage.
Contract growing. This is known as the "paiwi system." It gives members with free credit reports (FCR) and acceptable mortality/morbidity rates an opportunity to raise hogs (fatteners and breeders) and broilers. The cooperative pays for expenses incurred as well as marketing of products. The profit is divided between the member-raiser and the cooperative.
Artificial insemination. Started in 1998, this project aims to provide members with high quality piglets for hog breeding/raising through affordable artificial insemination from high-grade boars.
Pig Farm. Good quality piglets are available in SIDC's multiplier farm located in Taysan, Batangas. The farm boasts of first class facilities enough to accommodate 1,500 sows. There are at least 850 sow-level piglets to date.
Hog selling pen. SIDC constructed this pen to catalyze selling of hogs. It has an electronic weighing scale that assures accuracy of sale per kilogram. Members can also help prevent spread of diseases in hogs ready for sale by putting the pigs in the pen.
Savings and loans. SIDC accepts deposits from members with high interest rates. Various forms of loans such as cash loans, hog fattening program, hog breeding program, hog pen loans, housing loans, environmental loans, and student loans are available. These are all secured by collaterals.
SIDC also manages the Batangas City Slaughterhouse where almost 150 hogs are being slaughtered daily. In 2003, Farmer Vic Processed Meat Store became operational to assure marketing of hog products. It sells processed meat products such as longganisa, tocino, ham, embutido, siomai, and barbeque produced by SIDC members.
Truly, SIDC products and services have diversified through the years. It also has a cooperative mart with five branches, three gasoline stations and auto service, water refilling station, cable TV station, and insurance products, among others. In 2008, SIDC's network has reached more than 7,000 members. Most of them are from Batangas City but there are also members from nearby provinces like Laguna, Bataan, Quezon, Mindoro and Metro Manila.
Challenges and Opportunities
During his presentation at the SEARCA Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) last February 9, 2010, Dr. King highlighted four issues currently faced by SIDC. These include:
Environmental sustainability issues of hog fattening enterprises
With the increasing number of hog heads, wastes are accumulating in creeks and other water sources thereby causing human and animal health problems. Moreover, the biogas digester in SIDC's communal green farm is reported to release methane causing air pollution. SIDC members are currently identifying practices (e.g., development of organic fertilizers from chicken manure), which can enable them to continue their current production without losing environmental integrity.
Securing feed input materials to protect both feed mill's and member-piggeries' long term competitiveness
In recent years, the cost of feed inputs has increased drastically causing a decline in production. As a response, SIDC is looking for alternative sources of feed inputs that are cost-effective but will not affect product quality.
Developing markets and Bio-N testing for sustainable cost-effective organic grain and crop production
At present, SIDC is directly collaborating with UPLB BIOTECH in its pursuit of commercially developing Bio-N as cost effective alternative to inorganic sources of nitrogen.
Developing capacities of SIDC members and staff on agriculture enterprise development
Many members have invested for family members' education but very few focus on agriculture, marketing, and business development. SIDC develops partnerships with agricultural universities for scholarships and training to ensure that there will be individuals who can carry on the mandates of SIDC in the years to come.
Today, SIDC strives to become a globally competitive and world-class cooperative offering technologically advanced products and services.