The 7th Asean Cooperative Business Forum
WAseanITH a critical mass of some 500,000 agricultural cooperatives from the 10 countries – yes, about 500,000 is the total number of the cooperatives of farmers, fisherfolk, women and of the indigenous people based on the figures given by the delegates representing their respective countries when we met in Bangkok, Thailand in 2012 during the meeting of the Asean Center for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives (Acedac).
The delegates to the 7th Asian Cooperatives Business Forum have come together January 16 to 18 for a 3-day convergence in Manila to bring to the fore the voice, the issues and concerns, the business plan and the advocacies of their hundreds of millions of members in the spirit of cooperation and oneness. The theme, “Cooperatives, being members-owned, value-based and sustainable, are advancing prosperity for all,” has put in clear categorical term the very essence of cooperativism and why we have to propel cooperative business to greater heights.
Being members-owned, the problem of gross inequities will be addressed as the members are the main stakeholders as they own and manage their own enterprise.
They are the ones to control, to decide and to benefit, thus, democratizing wealth and power. Being value-based, the cooperatives give high adherence to time-honored and universally-accepted cooperative
“But there is more!” the other client was immediately converted. “There is no Strawberry Capital without Strawberries.” One must wonder. The “Pride of Place” concept is tourism’s noneconomic benefit under the thrust of “socio-economic development”. “It will be sad to have nothing to be proud of in our town”.
People tend to forget what our lives would be bloomed was wonderfully citrusy. Since then, I added more lemons to grow hoping that I would someday be harvesting enough fruits that the family needs daily, even with a very limited space.
Urban sprawl has eaten so much of the nation’s farms. The urbanization that took shape along EDSA and Marikina, in Metro Manila; and principles values and practices of participation, democracy, equality, service, industry, cooperation, honesty, transparency, accountability and most importantly, concern for the environment and for the communities. Money is used to en- hance life and the well-being of the people and not to make more money.
The cooperatives are considered the builders of sustainability and by 2020, they will be the acknowledged leaders in social, economic and ecological sustainability.
This means that food security, inclusive growth and ecological integrity will be the priorities rather than business and profit – which is what prosperity for all is all about! It is just amazing that the forum will begin with the first salvo by openingup Exhibits and Asian Coffee Corner showcasing the products of the cooperatives from different Asean countries which can be the subject of intratrading between and among the Asean countries.
The Exhibits carries with it a strong message that buying is like casting a vote, choosing from different economic alternatives, cooperatives versus non-cooperatives; essentials versus non-essentials, organic versus non-organic. When you buy the products of the cooperatives, you are buying what are essentials, what are healthy and organic without these economies which were admittedly built by the real tourism frontliners in the last decades. Problem is; the frontliners sometimes forget to be grateful, putting money on top, and being a part of the community at the bottom. They forget to remind the tourists to dispose their wastes properly, or to at least support La Trinidad’s brand campaign at least by the commissioning of shirts and keychains to promote the name “La Trinidad”. “Basta makalako mabalinen!” they would insist. It is difficult to change mindsets that closer to home, La Trinidad, Benguet; Bontoc, Mountain Province; and Tabuk City, Kalinga that were once open field farms all happened during my lifetime. These places have all become highly urbanized. Even in many parts of Central Luzon, the disappearance of agricultural lands in favor of housing and other industrial uses was rather too fast.
So there goes another reason why I do urban gardening while, at the same time, I try to lose and at the same time support the livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable to create employment and draw those in the margins into the mainstream of development processes.
It is just amazing that in the exhibits of products, we are pleased to show a product on coffee that has been adjudged in Seattle USA last year as the best coffee in the world produced by a cooperative of the Indigenous People in Dalwangan and Maramag, Bukidnon.
There is no doubt, this International Forum will not only be a learning venue with each country presenting the amazing stories of the agricultural cooperatives but will also include a regional sharing of information highlighting innovations of the cooperatives in facing the challenges brought about by a globalized set-up. There will also be field tours to successful nearby cooperatives whose innovations and outstanding performance have become models in the global economy.
In this forum, we will see the building and launching of partnership among cooperatives including the signing of memorandum of agreements. All told, the Forum is advancing what the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has declared, that cooperatives are the people’s preferred development model and the fastest growing enterprise that will replace the present dominant paradigm. The paradigm shift from neo-liberal capitalism to cooperativism is already long overdue. SSCagayan have been cemented by years of practice. Disturbing the status quo will instigate dislike, even defiance. The question I ask people is “Do you love your hometown?” Or in moments of inebriation and deluge : “Isakit tau met koma ti ili tau.”
What should be sustained is not the word “sustain”, but being the strawberry town in our country. Lest La Trinidad wants to pass the “Strawberry Capital” title. For me, if there is such a thing as “Strawberry Fields Forever”, I would want it to be in La Trinidad. my feverish and diabetic nerve and muscle pains too with the work. But more important, it is my hope to be able to contribute to the growing stock of knowledge and experiences on urban gardening that the future generations may use to produce their food. Hey, I heard that some Japanese industrialists built some skyscrapers whose rooftops are now utilized for the production of rice. The first experiment indicated there are less if non-existent pest up there. -30the