“RMB has been there for us when we need them”
ROGELIO O. PASCUAL
Back in 2004, Marsman Drysdale Agri Ventures Inc., (MDAVI) entered into an Asparagus contract growing project with the farmers of Purok Vineyard, Barangay San Jose, General Santos City. But after four (4) years of operation, MDAVI encountered some problems in the company’s operation that led to its eventual closure.
The situation caused disappointment for the growers who have relied on asparagus farming as their source of income. Rather than being defeated by the event, the farmers used the problem as an opportunity to get back on their feet. They united themselves and organized what has now become Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative. With a common vision and strong desire to help themselves and their community, the member-farmers proceeded to build their asparagus plantation, while the cooperative set up their processing plant in a small makeshift house made of light materials. In 2011, Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative secured financial and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM), a USAID-assisted project. Through this financial and technical assistance, the cooperative was able to expand further their asparagus plantation and put up a concrete Asparagus Packing House.
In September 2015, with less than half of their targeted land area planted with Asparagus, and knowing there is a growing domestic and international market for quality Asparagus, Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative sat down to discuss participation in the Bank’s Agricultural Value Chain Financing initiative. The initiative is focused on providing additional working loans for agricultural value chain players such as processors, consolidators, aggregators, and traders who are engaged in agricultural activities identified by the Bank as qualified and a priority. Asparagus which is a high value crop met the Bank’s criteria such that in 2015, Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative was able to access financing worth Php 1 million. This initial amount was used to purchase quality seeds from California, USA. From that initial loan of Php 1 million, the Bank’s exposure to Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative has already reached Php 4.2 million as of December 2017. For 2018, more loans are being discussed to assist the cooperative in attaining its goal of putting up a 200-hectare asparagus plantation in General Santos City. What is noteworthy with the efforts of the cooperative is that they are reaching out to small farmholders in their area to join them in their asparagus production and business. Moreover, the cooperative provides employment to other members of the households by employing them as workers in their processing plant.
This kind of “malasakit” demonstrated by Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative to their member-farmers and the community where it operates is a testament that when small enterprises are given the right opportunities, their hopes and dreams can become a reality, and they become an agent of transformation. For Rizal MicroBank, we are more than happy and inspired to become their partner in pursuing their hopes and dreams by providing them with financial products that help them address their challenges, and make their journey towards their goals lighter. This partnership between Rizal MicroBank and Greenland Asparagus Multi-Purpose Cooperative is proof that when we believe in our capacity to help one another, better things start to happen for ourselves, our communities, and our country.