Topdac Multi-purpose Cooperative came into existence when an MSAC-OXFAM-PBSP Program was initiated in September 1, 1978 by Dr. Carlos Buasen of the Mountain State Agricultural College (MSAC) now called Benguet State University. It started with Agricultural Skills Training that employed the services of two personnel-Mr. Robert A. Cayanos as community organizer and Mr. Guerzon Tianza as agricultural technician.
Farmers were involved in the training and demonstration on Mushroom, Poultry and Hog Raising conducted in the community. In August, 1979, ninety- seven (97) farmer trainees graduated from the program. The agricultural skills training were followed by orientation on community organization of a cooperative that led to formation of a cooperative with a share capital of P 7,290.00, (5,000 was derived from the Animal Demonstration Project and P2,290.00 from the farmer trainees contribution).
The establishment of a consumer store was made possible when Mrs. Delinta Mendoza, one of the pioneer members voluntarily offered her lot for the construction of a nipa house . On October 25, 1980, the Consumers cooperative started its Operation with a simple inauguration program and dedication of the building led by the Project Director, Dr. Carlos C. Buasen.
In the course of its operation, the cooperative members had been trained in managing small enterprises that served as their livelihood activities. Figures below show the actual trainings undertaken by the pioneer members.
With generated net surplus augment by financial assistance from various agencies, the cooperative was able to buy a parcel of land and put up a building made out of wood and G.I. sheets that served as the new office. The cooperative was then registered as Topdac Consumers Cooperative in February 23, 1983. As a result of the volunteerism of the members who patronized and managed the cooperative, the cooperative grew and saw the need to expand to other services needed by members. In August 19, 1993, the cooperative amended its name and became Topdac Multi-purpose Cooperative. Partnerships with various institutions led to the expansion of consumers operations in different sitios of the barangay.
In line with the declaration of the United Nations of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming efforts to document farmer members perception on cooperative services and its effect to family farming. One of the pioneer members was interviewed and the following information were gathered.
The Patricia A. Kitano Story
Patricia A. Kitano is one of the pioneer members of the cooperative who was born on July 14, 1934 and married to then Basilio Kitano. They were blessed with 11 children, 4 ladies and 7 gentlemen. Majority of her children finished high school and 5 of them successfully obtained their college degrees.
Mrs. Kitano started his membership in October 25, 1980 with an initial share capital of P 200.00 that increased to P 19,005.21 based on the latest financial data of the cooperative. Her family currently cultivates 2.5 hectares of hilly land and avails services of the cooperative, with P50,000.00 as the highest loan approved. Such loan is paid regularly and renewed per cropping cycle. Some of the gathered feedbacks by cooperative staff during an interview with Mrs. Kitano as to how she views the cooperative services in relation to family farming were as follows:
- “The cooperative is part of my life. It is so beneficial to me, my family, neighbors and community.”
- “Through its consumers service, I can buy goods (cash or account) like food, clothing and school supplies because of its accessibility and availability within our locality. Unless it is not available in the store, then that is the time I purchase at the La Trinidad or Baguio City”.
- “Through its Credit services, I availed loans to finance my farming activities that served as source of income used in sending my children to school. I availed emergency and providential loan that helped me meet my urgent needs in the home and for my health.”
Further, it was gathered that the children and grandchildren of Mrs. Kitano had joined the cooperative. They currently patronize the services of the cooperative as member users and shareholders of the cooperative.
As of August 31, 2014, the cooperative released about P 3.4 million agricultural loans and P 402,150.00 providential loans. Gross sales was about P 9.1 million. Categorized as small cooperative, total assets of Topdac MPC cooperative is about P 12.7 million owned by 501 members composed on 178 male and 323 female respectively.
General Manager Edina K. Picpican in an interview shared that bulk of the loans granted by the cooperative goes to agricultural loan since barangay Topdac is dependent on agriculture as source of livelihood. She further mentioned that the cooperative had partnered with various agencies both non-government and government institutions the latest of which is that with the DA-CAR that funded the Barangay Food Terminal Project or Barangay Bagsakan Center.
Lastly, some members of the cooperative are gradually transforming their conventional farming practices and adopting natural/organic farming system that is ecologically sound. (Lotes P. Lab-oyan, CDS II-CAR)