Kabugao, Apayao – From its humble beginnings of its thirty homebased workers at Barangay Nagbabalayan Kabugao, Apayao – the Nagbabalayan Farmers and Fisherfolks Association continues to imprint a remarkable impact to its members and the locality.
The group started with homebased workers of mostly farmers, foods, snacks and vegetable-vendors, fish pond owners, and housewives. They registered as an association with the DOLE-CAR in May 2016.
Since coconuts and peanuts are abundant in their locality, the association initially thought of selling these products. However, they estimated that selling peanuts and coconuts in their raw state yielded lower returns. They will also face competition from other residents who sell the same, thus the members considered venturing into coconut jam and peanut butter production instead.
Through DOLE-CAR Apayao Field Office’ (DOLE-CAR AFO) guidance, and upon coordination with other national agencies, trainings were provided from 2017 onwards on food processing, good manufacturing practices, organizational management, product branding, costing, labelling, and packaging and marketing, among others.
Subsequently, the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) – Kabugao, assisted the group in forwarding their proposal to the DOLE which was approved and funded in 2018.
With the help of the Apayao Field Office, the association formulated its business plan entitled “Enhancement of Peanut Butter and Coco Jam Production”. They were enrolled to the Sustainable Livelihood Framework, to further undergo capacity building trainings.
During their initial operations, the ingredients were bought outside of the region, but the association started growing their own peanuts in their members’ properties and on a rented lot. The peanuts which the members planted were bought by the association for food processing.
Since then, the association’s demand for peanuts increased prompting the group to increase the cycles of planting peanuts from twice to thrice a year. They also engaged and sustained their own coconut plantations.
Aside from profit-sharing from their products and buying peanuts and coconuts from the its members, the members attained additional income as wages for their work based on their output and capacity. The members may engage in the food processing section, plantation cleaning, or preparation of (plantation) beds.
The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Kabugao regularly promotes the Peanut Butter and Coco Jam of the association, purchased or given as gifts and tokens during programs of the locality. Their products are displayed and promoted during the February Apayao Foundation Day and June Municipal Town Fiestas. Last 2020, they processed more than 1,500 bottles of Peanut Butter and Coco Jam for the Apayao Founding Anniversary.
Their organization became a partner of DOLE in the implementation of the Special Program for the Employment of Students to more than forty (40) students/out-of-school youths for three consecutive years since 2019.
To date, two members of the association graduated in a four-year degree with the help of the livelihood project. Ms. Ellen Grace Abuag and Ms. Karen Samtoy-Abuag both finished their Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at the Apayao State University. Ms. Karen Samtoy-Abuag has since passed her licensure examination for teachers.
Adding to the positive impact in their community, the association established and maintains a 150 square meter communal garden near their barangay hall, where the grown vegetables are free for all residents. Similarly, property-owners in their barangay benefitted when the organization rented their idle land for more peanut and coconut plantation.
They also render free community services such as a clean-and-green program, actively assisting in the Brigada Eskwela, and donating school supplies and materials.
Though the pandemic affected their sales output, the association continues to thrive in their backyard planting. They recently received their Certificate of Appreciation from LGU Kabugao as an active organization in supporting the locality.
The Nagbabalayan Farmers and Fisherfolks Association is the DOLE Cordillera’s 2021 Best Assisted-Livelihood Project for the Group category, which entitles them to an additional cash award of Php 50,000.00.
END//Daryll Ponard with reports from Apayao Field Office