By Maya M. Padillo

DAVAO CITY — Queensland-based BioAust Pty Ltd. has proposed a partnership with the Federation of Cooperatives in Mindanao (FEDCO) for an organic food project.

FEDCO founder and Chief Executive Officer Ireneo D. Dalayon said the Australian company’s Executive Director Alan Twomey offered a partnership to set up Mindanao Organic Foods, which will involve both plant and animal production.

“That is my big challenge now. Mr. Twomey chose me as recipient of his program. My role will be organizing the farmers in Regions 11 (Davao) and 12 (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City). The farmers will undergo training on marketing and exporting for free. On the dairy side, it will be more of a feeding program,” Mr. Dalayon said in an interview with BusinessWorld.

FEDCO is an umbrella organization of cooperatives in Mindanao that produce cavendish bananas for export, cacao, and other agricultural products.

Under the plan, an agribusiness steering committee will be formed with representatives from small growers and other cooperative members, the FEDCO management, local government, and academic experts.

BioAust has five technology divisions involving automation, agriculture, energy, health, and seed technology.

In his letter proposing the tieup, Mr. Twomey noted Mr. Dalayon’s current interest in goats in small herds and cited the potential of developing a new tropical goat breed through a planned Mindanao Organic Foods Institute.

Mr. Twomey describes the proposed partnership “as a potential amalgamation of the ideas that would appear to meet both organizations’ needs.”

Mr. Dalayon sees possible development assistance from BioAust for the small banana growers as well as FEDCO’s Banana-Cacao Project and Banana Feeding Program.

“I have been feeding students in public schools here (in Davao City)… During the flooding in Manila I sent boxes of bananas in the flooded areas… we can feed more children (with BioAust),” said Mr. Dalayon, who was among the awardees of last year’s Leaders and Achievers of Davao (LEAD) by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Davao.