The humble Barangay Pulong Buhangin in Sta. Maria, Bulacan tells a story of resilience and determination. The Sta. Maria Dairy Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SMD) was founded in 1970 under the Pulong Buhangin Balasing Agrarian Reform Community. It has a simple yet profound goal: to serve the needs of local farmers and nearby communities. The cooperative’s humble beginnings centered around cow’s milk and carabao’s milk, which they distributed throughout Sta. Maria and its neighboring towns. However, their path to success was far from smooth.

In 2009, Typhoon Ondoy struck, leaving SMD in a dire situation. With only four reconditioned freezers, chilling tanks, and limited resources, preserving dairy products became a challenge. Farmers began to leave, seeking better opportunities elsewhere due to the cooperative’s inability to store and maintain their products. It was a critical moment that demanded innovation and support.

Enter DTI’s unwavering commitment. In 2013, DTI’s CARP Associate, Hannibal Capili, extended a helping hand to SMD through interventions and capacity-building activities. A turning point came when the cooperative availed the Shared Service Facility (SSF) Program, which provided the necessary equipment for storage and packaging. This program breathed new life into SMD, allowing them to recover from declining sales and regain their footing. In 2014, SMD was absorbed as a Dairy Division of Catmon Multi Purpose Cooperative under the leadership and management of Mr. Luisito Dela Rosa.

Under the management of Mr. Dela Rosa, SMD experienced a revival. They joined forces with Catmon MPC, and their sales gradually surged. With increased storage capacity, the cooperative could accommodate more raw milk and establish competitive pricing for purchasing. Their product range expanded to include yogurt, kesong puti, fresh milk, milk bars, chocolate milk, and pastillas. The once-local brand made its mark in Manila, Pasig, Quezon City, Makati City, and Bulacan.

Today, Sta. Maria Dairy, now a Dairy Division of Catmon MPC, is a success story etched in the hearts of its 89 farmer beneficiaries and the 52 jobs it has generated. From Robinson’s Supermarket to Market-Market, Waltermart, and other malls ,their products grace the shelves of renowned supermarkets and pasalubong centers. SMD’s journey is one of constant growth, marked by their participation in numerous trade fairs, showcasing their unwavering spirit and quality offerings.

Sta. Maria Dairy’s story is a testament to the transformative power of innovation, collaboration, and support from programs like DTI’s. As they continue to rise, their journey reminds us all that with dedication, hard work, and a helping hand, the sky is not the limit—it’s just the beginning.

“Yo’gut me?” Mr. Dela Rosa beams, capturing the essence of their journey: a question turned into a resounding success. ♦

Date of release: 11 August 2023