THE Philippine Government and the national cooperative movement as well are pleased to welcome the delegates to the Executive Conference of the Regional Network of Agricultural Development Cooperatives in the Asia and the Pacific from January 19 to 23 here in Cagayan de Oro City.

We are happy to welcome no less than the Nedac’s Program Adviser, Mr. W. I. Khan and Chairperson, Mrs. Vasudha Mishra and all the honorable delegates coming from the Asia and the Pacific region.

The Conference will bring to the fore issues and concerns besetting the more than Three Hundred Thousand Agricultural Cooperatives in the region that must come together as a potent development force in the light of the Asian Economic Integration.

Indeed, trade liberalization has caught on with Asian economies. The free flow of products, skilled labor, services, capital and investments are seeping in penetrating even rural communities. With the Asean Economic Integration which started in 2015, barriers will be fully dismantled and foreign trade will intensify. This is especially true in Mindanao where 70 percent of the resources are in the hands of big business and TNCs.

We fully understand the truism as analyzed by social scientists that “broad based market and wider geographic reach will favor those with resources, networks and alliances, as economies of scale and big capital are required to compete. Given this, big corporations and multinational institutions will thrive. Unfortunately, these institutions and corporations oftentimes reduce trade purely as an economic transaction and displace local livelihood, damage local cultures and ignore the negative impacts on the environment.”

The cooperatives worldwide must be a countervailing force with their strong adherence that growth must not be exclusive. The very DNA of cooperatives is one that is inclusive, value-based and sustainable.

The Conference is being held at a time when cooperatives in the Philippines are scaling the heights. Because of the Social Contract of His Excellency with the Filipino People, cooperatives’ number has doubled, from 7 million before the President came to office five and six months ago to now 14 million.

As part of the 3-day Conference, the delegates will find time to visit outstanding cooperatives whose high quality products and services manifest that these can be part of intra or inter trading with high global competitiveness.

To be visited are the following:

The Linabo Agrarian Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Lampco) in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. Lampco stands tall in trailblazing an empowerment path not only in liberating themselves from the bondage of tenancy but in gaining headways in producing high quality produce called coco-sugar following sustainable agriculture practices.

The Mass Specc, the most outstanding Coop Federation in the entire country, has been an epitome of success in serving its coop primary members and has further strengthened its services by trailblazing medical services to the poor and vulnerable.

The Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives whose dairy products are just amazing and can well compete globally.

The Climbs which is on top of providing insurance services all over the land with all its remarkable achievements. Climbs is the pride of the cooperatives nationwide lead by a cooperative leader par excellence, a Centennial Cooperative Awardee, Mr. “Tatay” Fermin Gonzalez.

The Del Monte Cooperatives (Credit, Agrarian Reform, and Community) whose excellent and outstanding achievements have become a feather in the cap of the cooperative movement in the Philippines, the reason why they have been put in the National Cooperative Hall of Fame.

The delegates will also be visiting the Coop Ville, a 5-ha. cooperative village with some 200 houses established by the Federation of People Sustainable Development Cooperatives (FPSDC) for the victims of Sendong.

Truly, FPSDC has exemplified to the highest degree the essence of a Transformative Cooperative for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace.

The Cooperative Development Authority, together with FPSDC and Nutri-Wealth Cooperative which are members of Nedac, is honored to host the Conference.