Pastor Fred Balintay, Luis Arueza, Mamalyari Soria, Frida Laban, Pastor Joel V. Alviar, Cornelio Masunong (left to right)
ARI graduates from the province of Zambales and the nearby city of Olongapo got together to discuss how we can use our different areas of expertise to help the farmers and fishermen in our province. After a series of meetings and brainstorming sessions we found that we needed to identify our experiences, strengths, and skills and then organize ourselves to effectively help others. This is how the idea of starting a cooperative came into being.
On April 22, 2019, with guidance from the provincial office of the Cooperative Development Authority, the Sambales ARUGA and Farmers Agriculture Cooperative (SAFACo) was born. The organizers and officers are graduates of ARI and belong to an organization called ARUGA which means “care” in Tagalog. ARUGA is the name of the ARI Graduate Association in the Philippines. So, the name SAFACo shows the connection among ARI’s graduates that is also extended to farmers throughout the community.
to promote and encourage farmers to produce vegetables, rice, and livestock using organic methods
to produce organic fertilizers and other farm inputs for use by the farmers
to process and market members’ farm products, thus eliminating the middleman
to provide credit for crop and livestock production
to promote and advance the economic and social status of the members
to ensure the viability of the Cooperative through continued education, training, and the utilization of new technologies
All documents and other requirements have been submitted to the Cooperative Development Authority to gain legal status for SAFACo. However, due to the surge of COVID-19, registration has been delayed.
Filipino farmers are dependent on commercial fertilizers, which are expensive. These high prices reduce the amount a farmer can produce. Furthermore, the soil and the environment are destroyed by continually using chemical fertilizers and other inputs. SAFACo is introducing organic fertilizers that will improve the soil, improve production, and give a big savings to the farmers. As a showcase, we made bokashi fertilizer to use in our own farms, because the farmers want to see the results before they will be convinced to use it. SAFACo plans produce a large volume of bokashi, pack it, and sell it at a lower price. This project is headed by Wilson Dicag Ignacio, 2012 ARI Graduate. We utilize chicken manure as the primary raw material from the poultry farm of our member, Joel Alviar, 1986 ARI Graduate.
SAFACo members planted 300 papaya trees on two hectares of land borrowed from one member. Cornelio Masunong, 2019 ARI graduate, used his tractor to plow the land and then we added organic materials and chicken manure fertilizers before planting the Papaya seedlings. SAFACo members followed up with weed and tree care and now the trees are already bearing fruit that will soon be ready to harvest. Additionally, SAFACo members are planting Cassava on their own farms, as our special product to supply the demand of the market. We also encourage members to plant a variety of vegetables for their own families to eat!
With the desire to improve our cooperative, we made a strong partnership with the Department of Agriculture and other agencies for training and networking. Though we are experiencing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not prevented us from serving the marginalized farmers and community.
At present, we have 7 ARI graduates and 27 farmers with a total of 34 members. We continue to invite and recruit new members as we aim to improve the lives of our community through SAFACO
The ARI graduates serving as SAFACo officers:
Chairperson - Luis L. Arueza (1985 Graduate of ARI)