Marawi local Yassin Yusoph initiated the creation of the Bago Amasa Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Cooperative, a group of small farmers and fishers heavily affected by the Battle of Marawi in May to October of 2017.

“Kaysa matulog lang tayo at kumain, bakit di tayo magtipon-tipon, magtanim at tulungan ang mga sarili natin,” Yusoph recalled saying to convince farmer and fisher locals from ground zero to form a cooperative.

In 2017, said cooperative was tapped by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) as lending conduit for the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance facility which provided initial P5,000 loan to its 65 members aimed at helping farmers and fisherfolk, affected by the Marawi siege, to rehabilitate their agri-fishery livelihood.

“Malaking tulong ang P5,000 kasi yun ang ginawa naming puhunan sa pagtatanim namin,” said Yusoph. “Dalawang beses na kaming naka-ani ng mais.”

The Bago Amasa IDPs Cooperative, established only in May 2018, is one of the 12 cooperatives from Marawi City whose members received P5,000 each as part of the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) through ACPC’s SURE Assistance facility.

“Malaking tulong talaga dahil mahirap ang buhay ngayon. Nawala kami sa lugar kung saan nandun ang aming hanap-buhay,” said Yusoph adding that until now, his fisherfolk members are prohibited by the military to sail at the Lanao Lake while those who farm settled in tending lands owned by nearby relatives.

Yusoph narrated that during the first hour of the terrorist attack, he was in the hospital with his wife and their youngest daughter who was confined due to diarrhea. “Takot na takot kami dahil sa putukan. Kinagabihan, nagsunog na sila ng mga bahay. Nung binalikan namin, wala na, sira na lahat ng gamit namin,” Yusoph added.

When it comes to loan repayment, Yusoph expressed confidence that his members will fulfill their duties. “Nagkakaisa ang coop na magbayad para maka-access uli. May tanim naman sila kaya kayang-kayang bayaran,” the Chair said.

“Lubos kaming nagpapasalamat sa DA at sa ACPC na talagang nakatulong sa amin,” said Yusoph. “Sa ngayon, may isang baka na ang aming coop na pang-araro. Nag-commit din ang Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) na i-train ang coop naming para mas lalo pang mag-improve ang aming operations.”