Cooperation Among Cooperatives: How Agrilogx Members were Saved by its Partner-Cooperatives
Agrilogx during the pandemic
According to BusinessWorld, as soon as the COVID-19 Pandemic hit our country, the agriculture industry in our country fell by 0.4%. This would then result to a lot of farmers losing their livelihood. Agrilogx, a producer cooperative and a partner of Asiapro Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Tnalak Multi-Purpose Cooperative, is one of those affected by this. Agrilogx manages its own farm and sells to its clients its products which are mainly banana and papaya. On top of the whole pandemic situation, Agrilogx’ farm was devastated by pest and diseases that resulted from low to no productivity by the 3rd quarter of 2020. By this time, Agrilogx’ harvest only averages 0.02% boxes of banana per week in a 100-hectare farmland. Of the original 100 member-owners deployed in the farm, only 20 were required resulting to 80% downsize in manpower, and it is noteworthy to say that the remaining 20% were already on a rotational schedule despite the workforce reduction. Managing a large farmland, this entailed a large operational cost for Agrilogx, forcing the coop into a possible verge of collapsing as it cannot stand on its own anymore because of depleted funds.
How Agrilogx Managed to Survive with the Help of Other Cooperatives
Apart from the financial struggle, there were member-owners that needed to be tamed because they were already losing their livelihood, with their main source of their incomes being greatly affected with some even had only a day’s worth of salary in a single payout period which is 15 days. In August 2020, Mr. Ernesto Destajo joined the cooperative as Agrilogx’s newest Operations Manager bringing with him a decade of experience in the agriculture industry before getting onboard with the cooperative. With the current condition of the cooperative, he thought it was best to be open and transparent to the members with the situation of the business. They conducted daily “pakighimamat” or a dialogue between the members and the cooperative where the management get to update the members about the business and the members have the chance to raise their concerns, queries, and opinions about the business as well. Mr. Ernesto posited that to get the trust of the members, there has to be that certain level of sincerity in the manner of talking to the members, especially in such a crucial time – ultimately, investing in the relationship with the members more than just delivering the message that the business is in a critical condition.
Luckily for Agrilogx, it is partnered with cooperatives that are financially stable that are reliable especially during critical times. To be able to continuously provide the livelihood opportunities promised to the member-owners, Tnalak Cooperative and Asiapro Cooperative and other member cooperatives of the tipón Federation, came together to provide financial assistance to Agrilogx in order for it to maintain its operations. With this, Agrilogx, through Mr. Destejo and team, projected the business to get back on its feet in 5-6 months. True enough, after 6 months, Agrilogx were bagging 2,000 boxes of banana produce from 100-150 boxes. From 20 members deployed, there were 112 members after 6 months and still continues to add. On top of this, new opportunities came in when a client needed a service provider for its papaya production in February 2021.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives are guided by Universally Accepted Cooperative Principles which are exercised world-wide, and these are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.* One of the cooperative principles is Cooperation among Cooperatives which is banked on the belief that working together with the cooperatives is the best strategy to empower members of the cooperative and build a stronger cooperative body.* As cooperatives serve to satisfy the needs of its member-owners, for example, provide livelihood opportunities or provide financial support in terms of loans and savings, cooperation and unity in the cooperative industry is the way to achieve such common goal.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic, businesses including the cooperatives have been tested and have faced a lot of challenges that shook their values and principles – some downsized, some resorted to flexible working arrangement and rotational schedule, while others were forced to close.
Insights from the challenges
Member-owners could not be more happy and grateful to be saved by their cooperative and its other partner cooperatives. Despite being almost closed, Agrilogx’ farm remained open with the hope of overcoming the adversity that it faced. Without the support of the other cooperatives, especially financially, they would have lost their livelihoods. By working together, the members were empowered to work hard so that the business will get back on its feet, which surely did, and by working together, a stronger and inspired cooperative body was built. As for the management, it is also grateful for the support of the other cooperatives, but more than that they take with them the learning that skills and knowledge towards the work and task are just a portion of what makes a business successful. It is the attitude or the mindset of the member-owners that despite the challenges, the cooperative will be able to overcome it. That sincerity and transparency towards each of the members and the situation of the cooperative will bring them to new heights.
Through the cooperation among the partner cooperatives of Agrilogx, not only did it help empower the members, but also helped strengthen the cooperative movement by working together – enabling Agrilogx to fulfill its purpose of providing livelihood opportunities to its members, especially those in the marginalized sector.
1st Workers Center, No.70 San Rafael St.
Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City, Metro Manila Philippines