Socorro, Surigao del Norte – Pork is the main meat product consumed in Caraga and in the Philippines as a whole. It is, like rice and chicken, one of the staple food products of Filipinos and at present comprises about 60% of the country’s meat and poultry production.
Pig husbandry is a profitable occupation especially for small and marginal farmers. It requires minimum capital investment and labor but the return over the investment is quick and high. Within a short period, piglets achieve marketable maturity.
The island town of Socorro used to be the swine capital of Siargao Island. In the previous years, Socorro had been supplying live hogs to the commercial town of Dapa and the tourism municipality of General Luna.
Meat-type hogs from the commercial farms in Davao provinces which has superior blood lines compared to the breeds reared locally entered the island. Since then, the hog consolidator in Siargao started to shun the local supply thereby cutting the much needed market by the local swine raisers which most of them eventually stopped raising pigs and in time occurred a shortage of supply in the municipality.
Through this pressing concern, Socorro Empowered Peoples Cooperative (SOEMCO) took the challenge and decided to put up a Swine Production Project capable to produce pork with the quality comparable with that of the hogs from Davao commercial farms.
Many challenges were encountered such as the needed amount for starting the business and the necessary trainings for the keepers. But despite the challenges, a light of opportunity through the help of Department of Agriculture–Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) gave hope to its people.
“We are grateful that the interventions from DA have reached our island; a proof of sincerity to its commitment in serving the people all over Caraga,” said Reil Consigna, Operations Manager of SOEMCO.
The organization has accessed P 5 million for the needed capital and cost of operations for the project from MRDP through the untiring assistance from the Municipal Local Government Unit of Socorro.
“SOEMCO has been an active cooperative since the start of its operation last 1996. The organization’s visible commitment to help its members has inspired us to support them,” Mayor Denia Florano said.
The amount from MRDP provided the project with housing and facilities, tools, farm equipment, working capital, and 2 boars and 30 gilts which gave a start for its operation in October of 2013.
“People of Socorro were delighted seeing pigs with higher type of breed being raised in the locality. This would be a solution to our problem with pork shortage,” said SOEMCO Board Member Virgilio Gelsano.
The organization practiced artificial insemination (AI) with the technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture and the Municipal Agriculture Office for its production. “AI is better than traditional breeding since the amount of semen taken from a boar in one session can be used up to four sow,” said Noel Cagatin, resident agricultural technician of the organization.
Having 2 healthy boars, the organization can also earn through conducting AI sessions to small scale swine raisers and backyard breeders. This would create an additional income of 1,500 pesos per session and an additional spread for a high quality breed. “Breeders in Socorro will just call and set a schedule for AI, I usually perform AI services weekly with other breeders in the municipality,” said Cagatin.
An average of P 200,000 gross income per quarter is gained by the organization in the operation of its swine production and AI services.
Since there is an increase in the number of pigs, an expansion of its facilities is necessary and better waste management should be enhanced with the help of DA and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
Through this need, biogas was introduced and practiced by the organization to utilize the waste from pigs. “I am amazed how we can utilize the waste of our animals into renewable energy,” said Consigna. Now they can save around P 800 per month since they will not need to buy a tank of gas for cooking.
The accumulated amount of waste from a number of pigs caused much supply of processed methane gas and because of this SOEMCO is working on the facility that converts biogas into a source of energy for electricity.
The organization is also facing a challenge of utilizing its by-product which can be used as organic fertilizer to plants. “Because of this by-product which can effectively fertilize plants, the members are challenged to plant more since there’s much supply of fertilizer,” said Cagatin.
Members of SOEMCO and the people in the municipality have seen the progress of the swine production business. “We can say that this business has been successful because there is no more shortage of pork in the municipality and we did not only benefit from the pigs sold, but we have also influenced other backyard raisers to duplicate our good practices and through our AI services, they too have the same kind of high quality breed of pigs like we have,” Consigna said. (Fretcher Magatao 02/18/2017, ruralevolution.net)