The taste of muscovado sugar tends to linger in your tongue. Smoky, intricate, and with a lovely texture, the sugar has been a generous source of pleasure for countless coffee, chocolate cake, and gingerbread lovers. However, people nourished by these treats rarely realize that muscovado sugar is also a source of income and hopefulness for hardworking farmers and millers. For the members of the Antique Federation of Cooperatives (AFCCUI), prosperity through diligence is grown like sugarcane in fields of muscovado sugar.
The seeds of AFCCUI were planted in 1963 when Mill Hill missionaries introduced the cooperative movement in Antique. Fifteen of 21 cooperatives joined hands in 1969 to establish AFCCUI to help strengthen cooperatives by providing services such as training, consultancy, financial intermediation, and networking. Its initiatives have generated a positive impact not only in the development of cooperatives, but also in lives of the members and other Antiquenos.
Aside from yielding profits for the farmers and banana chips producers, AFCCUI also has its own Microfinance Lending Program, which has empowered people like Richard Cajurao and Valentine Bolivar with micro-businesses that continue to flourish. Cajurao, who is married and has a child, acquired Php 3,000 from AFCCUI in 2007 as additional capital to start a sari-sari store. His business has expanded, and he has even bought a multi-cab as service vehicle. Moreover, his saving deposit has grown from Php 150 to 7,000.
Bolivar, who has two children, also availed Php 5,000 as additional capital for a sari-sari store in the municipal wet market of San Jose, Antique. The business has flourished, and has even allowed him to buy a house and lot.
This year looks to be a fruitful one for AFCCUI as it partnered with the PinoyME Foundation, a social investment banking entity for microfinance institutions, and availed of Php 1 million to expand their muscovado sugar trading business. The loan will be funded by the global business process outsourcing company Accenture Philippines (800,000) and the PinoyME Foundation (200,000).
Tomdoly J. Antonio, general manager of AFCCUI, said: “We intend to use the funds as revolving capital for the purchase of muscovado sugar from miller/producers. Muscovado Sugar here in our province is seasonal, milling starts in the month of November and ends in March that’s why we have to stock in order to cater our market.
“Demand for muscovado sugar is getting bigger and we have started penetrating in some malls. Export market is also potential but the challenge is that we must produce organic muscovado since the demand is organic.
“Sugarcane farmers and millers could benefit from AFCCUI’s partnership with PinoyME having AFCCUI as assured market of their muscovado sugar. With continuous financial support of PinoyME, AFCCUI could absorb quality muscovado sugar with fair price.”
With the partnership, the federate built by farmers and cooperative members will become a driving force in the Philippine muscovado sugar industry. Moreover, it will continue to develop as a force for empowerment and microfinance to help enterprising Antiqenos fulfill dreams of more prosperous lives.
Antonio said: “AFCCUI is very grateful for the financial assistance of Accenture and PinoyME. We were able to increase our inventory of muscovado sugar so we will be able to sustain our market during off season. Our business is also of great help to the sugar farmers because we were able to promote muscovado sugar in both domestic and export markets.”
[This article was reposted from the PinoyME website: http://www.pinoyme.com/consortium/sweet-