Booths dotted Plaza Mayor as the city government kicked off the Cooperative Month celebration on October 10.
Led by the City Cooperative Development Office (CCDO), cooperatives from various barangays gathered in Doña Francisca for a foot parade that led to Plaza Mayor.
The cooperatives opened a trade fair at Plaza Mayor to showcase local products. CCDO head Lolita Del Rosario said that they also invited enterprises that are not yet cooperative members.
Since the past city administration, CCDO has been empowering cooperatives so they can cope with the market’s demands. Local producers used to undergo livelihood trainings organized by CCDO. Now, they can process Balanga’s raw harvests into wine and other preserves.
CCDO capped the Cooperative Month on October 14 with a program where cooperative members performed special numbers to entertain their colleagues. Also, CCDO distributed gifts to those present. Councilor Jorescel Panganiban represented Mayor Francis Anthony S. Garcia who, at that time, was representing Balanga City in an international anti-tobacco conference.
In her speech, Panganiban said that Balanga City sees cooperatives as one of its main partners in economic development. She also encouraged them to intensify their efforts in providing livelihood support to needy Balangueños.
The national government provided this year’s Cooperative Month theme which focused on change through poverty eradication and social transformation.
According to Del Rosario, Balanga City has 19 cooperatives. City government employees have their own Balanga City Employees & Entrepreneurs’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BALCEEMCO).
Del Rosario encouraged Balanga’s local enterprises to organize cooperatives. She said that her office offers professional help for new cooperatives.
Some of Balanga’s cooperatives have received awards from the national government. In September, the Cooperative Development Authority-Regional Office III (CDA) presented Cupang West’s cooperative the Gawad Parangal 2016.
As of 2014, Central Luzon has 95 cooperatives, third only to Region IV which has 146. Most of Central Luzon’s cooperatives are credit groups.
Recently, CDA included climate change adaptation programs in its services. Through People’s Survival Fund, CDA provides financial assistance to agrarian cooperatives that are challenged by natural disasters. By Arli Joshua Atienza