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What to do with all that Lovely Money

Retired Major General Gilbert Llanto of ACDI Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Taguig City was invited to speak at the recent Agricultural Cooperative Conference in Quezon City.  Every co-op leader should read this, and have the same conviction. 
As you very well know, our co-op has lots of resources.  We took on franchises of McDonald’s, Chow King, and 7-11 (a few years ago).  These enterprises served as “cash cows” – raking in more money for the cooperative.
But we came to think about it, the money of our members was enriching all the more the pockets of George Yang  (franchise owner of McDonald’s in the Philippines), Tony Tan Caktiong (owner /founder of Jollibee) and the Paternos (owners of the 7-11 franchise in the Philippines).
As a cooperative, we cannot do that.  So as stewards of the money of the soldiers who are members of ACDI, the co-op leadership decided to divest a few years ago. And we actually made decent returns by doing that.
So what are co-ops to do with all that money?
From what we have learned from today’s Agricultural Co-operative Conference, there is clearly a mismatch in the demand and supply in the agriculture market in the country.  Agriculture is controlled by a few, the oligarchs and the traders, while the farmers are landless and starving paupers.
There is clearly a need for co-ops to act.
So ACDI Multi-Purpose Cooperative is very willing to join that effort.  We started out trying to work out the co-op mart as a logistic distributor throughout the country.  So we are still searching for the solution. We’d be very happy to be part of this project being spearheaded by the CDA Chairman Orlando Ravanera.
Yung sinabi ni Prof Sammy Billanes – that there is much rice production potential in the country and that the only problem is that it is controlled by few – it will require so much investment if we implement it nationwide. 
And we are willing to join that federation that will undertake and bankroll the project.
We want to see the good practices of the primary co-ops, but more could be attained if we band together.  There is value in our strength.  With 14 million members, and 26,000 cooperatives nationwide, we cannot go wrong if we really become unified and one in purpose. Ang requirements natin, I looked around in supermarkets, there is nothing that cannot be produced by the cooperative!
There is nothing that cannot be distributed by the cooperatives.  
There is nothing that we cannot make.  Every member and every primary cooperative . . .
So there is really a need to cooperate among co-ops. I know it is quite difficult and we have been struggling in that area because there are individual differences.  That is all part of the territory but we just have to get on with it.  Our resources will not be enough if we do it alone.  We have realized that a long time ago.  
We cannot provide for our members and we cannot expand.  In the case of ACDI, our membership is limited to members of the AFP and so there is a limit to our membership.  But we can have more surrogate members by joining a federation – and that means the federation is a member multiplier.  
It should apply specifically to agricultural co-ops that have to band together.
Retired General Llanto is Chairman of the ACDI Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Taguig City. ACDI MPC members are military personnel, and is one of the largest co-ops in the Philippines in terms of Assets operating in 108 offices nationwide.
ACDI MPC was the Most Outstanding Large Primary Cooperative in the Philippines by the CDA, a testament to sustainable growth, contributions to people empowerment, and nation-building.

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