08 April 2011

"Star of the Sea" Offers Hope to Fisherfolks

Pinoy Fisherfolk
A local non-profit organization called Pinoy Fishmart Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PFMPC) is makeing available high quality fish and fishery products at affordable prices to consumers while providing a means of livelihood to marginalized fisherfolk who are regarded as the "poorest sector" in our society.

With assistance from the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC), these fisherfolk can now market their products directly to the consumers. All products carry the brand "Star of the Sea" with the slogan of "Every time you buy this product you feed a fisherfolk family".

PFMPC is the product of a research that was initiated and conducted by Dr. Pilar F. Fontelar, chief of the Fishery Industry Development Support Division (FIDSD) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Now on its seventh year, PFMPC has forged a formal partnership between the government and the private sector to attain a common objective of bringing the country closer to an era of sustainable development in the fishery industry.

Aside from Dr. Fontelar who is the founding chairman of the cooperative, the prime movers are former Dean Prudencia V. Conlu of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas-College of Fisheries; Antonieto R. Montallana, general manager; Rev. Booby B. Aragon; and Andy Ilustre, marketing consultant.

PFMPC has been assisting fisherfolk associations in putting up viable fishery-based livelihood projects, and riding herd on them until they have acquired the necessary skills to run their own business.

Among the successful that PFMPC has nurtured are the following:
  • Fisherfolk Association in Calaca, Batangas headed by Alfredo Relevo. The association has been engaged in smoked-tamban for 35 years, but it is only when they got into the boat of PFMPC, that their crude livelihood has been honed and transformed to become a lucrative social enterprise.
  • Sibunag Seaweeds Growers & Traders Association, Inc (SSGTAI) in Sibunag. Guimaras. With the assistance of the PFMPC it was able to implement value chain in seeweeds farming. Having obtained credit from the Fisheries Financing Program, the association is on its way to self-reliance and will serve as the nucleus of development for the other four municipalities of Guimaras province in Iloilo. Moreover, on the basis of their seaweeds value chain project, it can be deduced that seaweeds farming alone can combat poverty in five years.
  • Gubat St. Anthony Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GSAC), founded by Msgr. Melchor Esperida, has been 40 years in organization and operation, and the biggest cooperative in Bicol region has partnered with the PFMPC to provide the urgently needed wealth creation activity in the region starting with the 14 coastal municipalities of Sorsogon.
Among the strategic partners of PFMPC are: Permex Producer & Exporter Corp., Freabelle Market Corp., DAWV Foundation, Fenor Food Products, Bonuan Boneless Bangus, Tita Marina Bangus, Mega Sardines, Toscano-Soriano Trading, Coastal Core Inc., UNAVIS Inc., Pinoy Fiesta, PETNYM Allen Petshop, Amanda’s Marine Products, Navarro International, MCPI, Datingbayan Foundation, Tita Rosa.