Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Export Potentials

Kidapawan City - The President of the Metro Kidapawan City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKCCCIF) after visiting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait last month was amazed by the limitless demand for various agricultural products in said countries and upon his return here has embarked on massive campaign for support in order to capture such markets.

Dr. Ramon Floresta, MKCCCIF president, told members about the potentials for export for banana, fruits and vegetables and even for halal foods, during the opening of the Cotabato Business and Investment Center here last month.

Some members of the Islamic communities here attended said activity and the Muslim communities had decided to form their organization Tri-people Farmers Marketing Association aimed to support and grab the opportunities in aforementioned markets.

The organization president Mr. Jasper Adrales, Jimmy Masukat, vice president, and Bai Salibabay Masukat, treasurer, met with the Cotabato Watch early this week and informed it about their future plans in order for them to be with the mainstream market.

Mrs Masukat said that Muslim communities here lacks connections even in the Islamic world and there is need for Muslim communities to be in the islamic market grid where potentials abound, she said.

A former VSO international volunteer Mr. James B. Zamora who worked in Bangladesh also told the group that many islamic investors want to connect with local communities but the problem is that nobody can be trusted at the local level.

Dr. Floresta said that islamic investors also expressed to put up big capital later for local investments once the local partners are tested for their sincerity in complying with volumes and quality of products to be exported.

On the other hand, Mr. Zamora, who have been working with Muslim communities here since the signing of GRP and MNLF Peace Agreement in 1996, said that the potentials for investments with the Islamic businessmen are really great. However, the problem is that there is lack of social preparation among the communities who are wary about foreign investors who would be shunned off more often by placard-bearing people.

He said, social preparation is very important component in any investment efforts as it will prepare the communities of new developments in capital-building and partnership among local and international stakeholders.

In the past few years here since investors come in stiff opposition to multinational companies and corporations have been greeted with opposition and criticisms by oppositionists.

But observers claimed that they (oppositionists) cannot provide a concrete step how to address misunderstanding among local populace and the would-be investors.

VSO Volunteer James Zamora said that many of the local farmers want immediate dollars or higher yields of their lands, to the extent that they are commanding prices which are very high and not tenable. The farmers seem not to understand the cost of investments and most often they are thinking that they are only being made as milking cow by multinational companies.

Mr. Zamora added that while there is truth to some allegations the fact is that multinationals and corporations doing business in North Cotabato have not explored widely the space for dialogues and information campaigns on both sides.

It was also noted that local government units lacked the steps necessary in view of the investments and in some occasions posed as stumbling the hindrance for such investments, observers said.

With the formation of the Muslim communities and assisting them on capability-building the local chamber of commerce stressed said that there is strong possibility that it will succeed in its initiatives to support peace and development efforts in North Cotabato.

At present the local chamber of commerce has already designed the Liguasan Marsh Development Program which will engage the local communities in various economic programs in order to sustain whatever initiatives there are in support to peace efforts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Civet's Coffee Beans

Makilala, Cotabato - Japanese biochemist Dr Masaru Imada, an adjunct professor at the University of the Philippines Mindanao has been so passionate about civet coffee. For the last few months that he has been here he has visited Barangay Cabilao, a place where an experimental farm on civet coffee production is slowly thriving.

Lolo Mas as he is popularly called here has shared his talents on coffee teaching a core group of farmers how to prepare civet coffee beans. He has brought a few kilos to Japan and Lolo Mas said that the Japanese like the civet coffee very much.

Civet coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world. It is about Php7,000 a kilo in Tokyo, Lolo Mas said.

In the US, some Filipino Americans in California said that they pay around US $ 25 for a cup in some coffee shops there, a member of World-wide Filipino Alliance, an international organization said.

In Manila the cup of civet coffee commands to at least Php 250per cup. The price varies from coffee shops to coffee shops elsewhere. Dr. Imada since his visit here has been spending his time int he conduct of a scientific study about civet coffee. One time he told Cotabato Watch that Filipinos are really sitting on so many opportunities, which if tapped anytime, can greatly help them in their lives.

Dr. Imada is a consultant of Meiji Dairy Corporation inTokyo. His desire to help filipino coffee farmers has landed him to UP Mindanao where he is presently sharing his knowledge in biochemistry.

Photos were taken during the first consultation with the project beneficiaries last year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Respicio to sign MOA on Computer Grants

MAKILALA, North Cotabato - Mayor Onofre L. Respicio of the Municipality of Makilala will sign the Memorandum of Agreement with the National Computer Center over 4 computer grants to be given by said national government agency on 7 August 2009 in Davao City, the Office of the Municipal Mayor said.

The computer grant from the National Computer Center is part of its project on Community eCenter (CeC) establishment all over the country and the Municipality of Makilala is just one of the recipients of said grant.

The 4 units of computers will be accompanied with accessories the likes of web cams, a 4 in one printer and other accessories.

Earlier this year the Municipality of Makilala has applied for said program of the NCC in order to support its Person with Disability Program PWD) and Scholarship for about 60 public and private school teachers.

The amount of Php 1M has been allocated for the scholar teachers of the Municipality for Makilala and was approved by the Sangguniang Bayan Members this quarter.

The CeC is one of the most unique throughout the country, the NCC said as the project will be managed by the PWDs themselves as part of their livelihood project.

The Municipality of Makilala under the leadership of Mayor Respicio is strongly supporting the persons with Disability.

On the other hand the teachers scholars of the LGU had expressed earlier that they would be needing computers for their research on their masteral course . . The farmers had also opened up their Information Center. This concept was presented to the NCC and gain support considering its multi-pronged approach.

Generally the CeC is geared only towards a single program, the LGU Makilala said. In this case, the PWD, the scholars and the farmers program were given priority and the NCC said that it is unique considering that various services will be rendered and issues addressed.

The CeC shall be put up at the Makilala Public Market in order to cater to other users, the Office of the Mayor said.

In another development the Office on Agri Services strongly endorsed the combination of the project said Mrs. Rose Paguican, Municipal Agriculturist.

In view of current trends in the market and technology farmers will be greatly helped by the CeC and Information Center, she said in an interview with Cotabato Watch.

Coop to Launch Banking Project

Makilala, Cotabato - The Holy Family Multipurpose Coop here had decided to launch a rice banking project in lieu of deteriorating priorities of the general public on savings, the Holy Family MPC disclosed here last week during a meeting with its organizers.

The project aims to inculcate among members and non-members the value of saving forrice and not on luxuries, Mrs. Anita Tuba and Dodong Ibanez, coop organizers said.Mrs. Anita Tuba, Operations Officer said that their study shows that members and thegeneral public nowadays have preferred to save on luxuries than on basic needs, Mrs.Tuba said.

She said that last month they conducted a study in their store and carefully noted that members and the general public preferred to buy cell phones, loads, digi-cams and motorcycles than saving on rice for their basic consumption.

About 25 members who were observed who came in to buy rice were on motorcycles bought only between 3-5 kilos of rice for their consumption. A kilo of rice cost only about Php 30.00 well milled rice and Masipag, the most popular costs only about Php35/kilo Jasmine and 7 tonner costs only Php 36/kilo.

Of the 25 members who bought rice only 1 bought about 25 kilos of rice.The observation and study also showed that members have better cell phones and preferred to save on loads for their families, the Holy Family MPC said.

In the whole Province of Cotabato the HFMPC has noted that motorcycles haveproliferated as if motorcycles are no longer luxuries but a basic commodity to be bought. With four thousand pesos or more one can buy a motorcycle now on instalment basis, theHFMPC said. A monthly instalment of Php 2500 to 3,000 .00 can be paid per month. If motorcycles are not paid they can be repossessed by the distributor and the buyer is leftas if he is only renting it.

If repossessed, one can just apply for another unit in the other distributors around theProvince or in the City of Kidapawan the HFMPC said.

The proliferation of luxury items here in the Province of Cotabato is making it difficult for cooperatives to educate their members as to the real needs of the people as luxuries compete with good values, the HFPMC said. Right now, Mrs Tuba added that luxuries have become status symbol.

Young children, it is observed, are possessing cell phones and other luxuries instead of being taught to save money for their future.

Many coops here have instituted in their operations the value of savings and thrift among members and among the youth, Cotabato Watch has noted.