Cooperative Journey of Passion for Farming and Love for Community

Farming is often perceived as a challenging and labor-intensive industry with long hours and minimal financial reward. Mr. Samuel “Sam” Orias, Chairman of Dasol Ka ‘Adua Agriculture Cooperative, on the other hand, sees farming as a calling that provides him joy and fulfillment every single day. Manong Sam, as his fellow workers refer to him and grew up in Dasol, promised to work hard not only for himself but for all the farmers in Uli. His desire to help inspired him to form an organization of people to address their growing needs.

However, this was not an easy voyage, as “the farmer faced many challenges along the way,” according to Manong Sam. But what stops someone whose ambition, dedication, concentration, and determination to succeed rarely fades?

Manong Sam and the other members spent several years working on farms and gaining experience in their barangay before deciding to organize their cooperative. He didn’t know much about the premise of cooperation, but his heart urged him to continue what he and his co-farmers had started. Manong Sam sought the assistance of the Municipal Agriculture Office, which assisted him in meeting the registration requirements. After days and months of planning and sacrifice, they were officially recognized by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) as Dasol Ka ‘Adua Agriculture Cooperative on January 20, 2020.

Unfortunately, following their registration Pandemic hit the country. Agriculture has been mostly affected not just by quarantine regulations, but also by the devastating typhoons that have caused agricultural destruction. The cooperative also began operations with just a small amount of share capital, but incredibly greater financial opportunities revealed themselves with the availability of grants and assistance from CDA and LGU. Manong Sam stated that after collecting membership fees, subscription shares, and grants in the form of a second-hand mobile rice mill, they were able to repair the rice mill and begin operations in October 2021.

Since the majority of the cooperative’s members lack knowledge of modern farming concepts and procedures, as well as the use of modern farm machinery, Manong Sam and the rest of the Board of Directors (BODs) requested assistance from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) through the CDA to equip their members and create a livelihood.

The Cooperative Development Authority Region 1 (CDA R1) Extension Office, in collaboration with the Philippine Coconut Authority, successfully organized a seminar on “Basic Training on Coconut Production” for all the cooperative members of Dasol Ka ‘Adua Agriculture Cooperative on August 18, 2023. The training is geared toward understanding coconut plantation management processes and describing the concept of diversifying farms through coconut intercropping. They also learned about coconut harvesting and post-harvest handling, as well as its value and various appropriate management techniques against coconut pests and diseases.

Manong Sam aspires to support farmers and retirees in improving their farming skills and living standards by creating livelihood initiatives that increase family financial well-being. “Another reason is to take advantage of grants provided by government programs to benefit farmers in the agriculture sector” Manong Sam added.

The cooperative additionally plans to work to promote organic farming through the production of organic fertilizers to reduce synthetic and commercial fertilizer use to lower farming costs, as well as to be a successful coconut planter cooperative and producer of diverse coconut products.

“Over the years of growing a farm, I discovered the true joy of working with the land. I felt a sense of purpose for our (referring to their cooperative) continuous development, its connection to the natural world, and contribution to the community”, Manong Sam stated.

Their cooperative understands that the path they chose was never easy, as they encountered many obstacles along the way. But even through it all, they remained steadfast in their love for farming and their love for community.