The abundance of fish and marine products in Batanes paved the way for the Milagrosa Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPC) to become operational in 2014 headed by MMPC President Ms. Emily A. Balderas.
The people in Batanes were not that prepared to engage in business utilizing their rich marine products due to lack of proper trainings and seminars on entrepreneurship and other related skills trainings.
Fisherfolks were satisfied catching fish just enough for their family consumption and enough to supply the demand of the local market.
Thus,Itbud was proposed to become part of a “tourism circuit” in Batanes wherein they will become part of the “package” for local tours. With this, the association was advised of the need to prepare for such by producing/making pasalubong using local materials or resources abundant in the area.
Fish processing was identified as one of the potential business in Batanes but it entails a long and tedious process inhibiting them to produce moreduring the peak season. Thus, leaving them with no choice but to dry or process their marine catch the usual way.
Because of this, they were in dire need of equipment and tools to hasten their fish processing and other marine raw products to improve the quality and quantity of their production.
That time, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) came along to their business. DTI awarded Shared Service Facility (SSF) to the Association in 2014; such as Hand impulse Sealer, Chest Freezer, Stainless Steel Basin, Stainless Mixing Basin, and a Fish Smoke House.
The interventions and services extended by DTI Batanes and other partner agencies greatly contributed in the development of the MMPC. It brought about positive results in improving their production capacity and generated more jobs and income to other individual stakeholders. The Local Government Unit of Uyugan also provided space for their production center and other utilities.
The MMPC is an enrollee of DTI’s SME Roving Academy (SMERA) in cooperation with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), has been a recipient of trainings and seminars in the area of entrepreneurship, marketing, bookkeeping, product development and basic skills training on fish processing. Additional technology transfer was also given by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) while DTI Batanes provided product packaging and labelling consultancy services.
The MMPC introduced Uyugan to tourists as the primary provider of dried/processed fish at a very affordable price. It helped Uyugan in the improvement of the eco-tourism industry.
The sudden flock of tourists in the municipality has given more business and employment opportunities for their constituents. Its products, dried/processed fish also made tourists and even residents of Batanes believe that their marine products are not seasonal, Dibang and Hahay can be made available anytime of the year.
The MMPC changed the way people perceived business/es in Uyugan. It was no longer their means of exchanging products with other producers but it also became their primary source of income.
From being unemployed women and seasonal fishermen, 38 of their members have become regular employees to MMPC. It has become the local government’s partner in attaining a sustainable means of livelihood for our people. The presence of the SSF has changed the way the beneficiaries produced and marketed their products.
Moreover, the DTI will continuously provide assistance in the four pillars of development. This will prepare them to become more competitive and aware of the present business scenario vis-a-vis with the changing business environment.
The whole project concept helped the community by providing not only jobs but improved more closer ties among the small population of Itbud, Uyugan learning the virtues of sharing, industriousness and dedication to ones’ craft.
Along with the spirit of entrepreneurship and a common goal to champion the local fishing industry - the MMPC has served as a continuing catalyst for inclusive growth and will eventually be a sustainable source of livelihood for their families.