The People’s Organization of Upper Balongkot Small Farmers And Farm Workers Association, Inc. (PO UBSFAFWA)’s tablea is in demand and continues to rise in sales despite COVID-19 Pandemic. Tablea Managok’s Best is made of 100% pure cacao with a zero glycemic index. It is processed in Barangay Managok, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon and is distributed to supermarkets in Northern Mindanao and other provinces in the Philippines. During community quarantine between the months of March to August 2020, the organization made use of social media and other forms of telecommunication to continue selling their goods to customers.
From left: PO President Tessie S. Abunda, PO Beneficiaries Annalyn Tejada Dagasdas, John Proquillo, Mr. and Mrs. Rogelio Porquillo, INREMP Site Management Officer Edcarlou M. VIllarta, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Yvonie Tuyor, and Fidel A. Porquillo Jr. displaying the products of PO UBSFAFWA.
It is very evident that in today’s generation, social media and other forms of telecommunication are very effective to reach out to potential customers. When community quarantine was effected all over the Philippines, the majority of the establishments, especially the food sector, were badly affected in terms of sales. Some businesses declared bankruptcy but not the PO UBSFAFWA.
The establishment of cacao plantation started in 2006 with support from the Catholic Church through the Kasaganaan sa Niyugan ay Kaunlaran ng Bayan (KAANIB) Program when the PO received technical and financial assistance for cacao farming. The PO UBSFAFWA started small with the initial planting of 80 pcs. Cacao seedlings which are now bearing 80-100 fruits per harvest. In 2016, the PO partnered with Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) in the establishment of 48 hectares of agroforestry farm. Cacao was intercropped with banana, and shade trees. Just recently, they harvested numerous cacao fruits from the established agroforestry farm under INREMP.
During the COVID-19 crisis, cacao products helped the POs to support their needs. Mrs. Annalyn Tejada Dagasdas, one of the beneficiaries, became the first producer of milk and dark chocolate in Northern Mindanao. She distributes locally to DTI Negosyo Centers, NMV supermarket, Café sa Bukid, and Cabanatuan City. According to Mrs. Dagasdas, despite the pandemic, her product sales rose two (2) to three (3) times compared to her monthly gross sales the previous year. With the support of the Project and other government partners, she was able to establish a business and generate jobs for other community members.
On the other hand, INREMP continually monitors the plantation establishments, conducts strengthening programs, and follows rules and regulations from the government to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus and to continue the organization’s operation in this pandemic.