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DA’s I-REAP program would provide cash to Batangas cooperatives.

Prior to the end of the year, eligible cooperatives can anticipate receiving government money through the Investments in Rural Enterprise and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) program, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the Provincial Cooperative, Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development Office (PCLEDO).

I-REAP is a program designed to help small business owners, particularly those working in agriculture-related fields, grow their operations and expand their markets, according to PCLEDO head Celia Atienza.

The project, which is a component of the Philippine Rural Development Project of the Department of Agriculture, aims to boost the income, productivity, and competitiveness of rural communities.

She disclosed that cooperatives involved in the processing of foods and beverages made from turmeric, honey, and rice cakes, as well as “tawilis” (freshwater sardine) and “maliputo” (giant trevally), both fisheries native to Taal Lake, are top contenders for receiving I-REAP money.

people in charge of I-REAP’s funding also have a strong preference for people who weave or manufacture clothing from locally available materials, such as the Pia and Jusi cloth used in Barong Tagalog outfits and traditional Filipina dresses.

According to Atienza, the Aga Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AGFAMCO) and the Batangas Dairy and Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BADACO) were able to get their funds in the latter part of the previous year.

In this round of investment, local cooperatives received about PHP 8 million, she added.

The dairy sub-project of BADACO was funded with PHP1.5 million, which was utilized to buy a built-in milking machine and polyethylene bags for silage storage, it was further revealed.

AGFAMCO also received PHP 423,000 to spend on vacuum sealers, stainless steel work tables, de-hulling and de-pulping machines, and other equipment.

According to Atienza, the cash was given in the hope that the cooperatives will aid in reviving Batangas’ traditional industries like dairy and coffee growing.

Atienza added that PCLEDO would increase the implementation of an ongoing training program in an effort to solve the province’s shortage of knowledgeable cooperative officers.

According to her, “the failure of many cooperatives can be traced to the lack of sufficient knowledge and necessary training of their officers and members alike.”

After the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) published a new directive requiring cooperative executives to attend mandatory training before receiving certificates of compliance (COC), it was discovered that many cooperatives found themselves in danger.

According to Atienza, the PCLEDO has started providing training courses to regional cooperatives that are in danger of failing to satisfy the COC’s requirements in order to help the stakeholders comply with the new requirement.

“The CDA has accredited the PCLEDO as a training organization. Because they will likely become leaders in the sector in the future, we hope that cooperative members will receive training.

According to Atienza, the training courses being given at the moment cover audit management, general labor standards, policy development, financial, risk, and credit management, as well as basic accounting for non-accountants, strategic planning, and human resource management.

She recalled how PCLEDO was able to hold 68 training sessions in 2022, with more than 6,000 attendees.

She added that this year, PCLEDO aims to outperform its 2022 performance to fulfill its mandate of offering information and guidance to every cooperative in the province. “A hybrid of face-to-face and virtual training was adopted to ensure that the training also offers flexibility to the cooperative officers,” she said.

According to Atienza, the office has already held 13 in-person training sessions in 2023.

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