Coco farmers tied to traditional products

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 July) – Most coconut farmers are stuck to producing charcoal and copra and have not ventured into other food and non-food coco-based products that offer higher returns, an industry leader said Tuesday.

Reynaldo Go, chair of the Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster Inc. told reporters that most farmers only take the meat and the shell and throw away the water and husk which could be sold, too.

“They only know about copra and charcoal while the water is thrown away… The reason why they are converting their coconut plantations to other crops is because there is no enough income,” he said.

He urged government to teach farmers on making use of other materials from coconuts.

He said there is a demand for coconut even in the local market and encouraged the farmers to take advantage of the booming tourism industry.

“Some progressive owners and farmers are starting to appreciate it. If we have more tourists, they will drink more ‘buko’ and ‘buko’ is high price,” he said.

He said the fluctuations in the price of coconut discourages the farmers from either maintaining or expanding their plantations.

Go noted that the farmers can engage in producing virgin coconut oil, coco syrup, coco sugar, coco chips, cooking oil, and coco coir to earn more.

He estimated the region has around 300,000 hectares planted to coconut, the biggest in the country.

Department of Trade and Industry-Davao del Sur director Delia Ayano said their Shared Service Facility program has assisted a few farmers develop other products from coconuts.

DTI-Davao Region has distributed to farmers decorticating machines to turn the coir into geo-nets, mats and several other house decors, she said.

The market price for coir ranges from P8 to P15 a kilo.

Ayano added the geo-nets made from the coco coir help prevent soil erosion when used to cover bare soil.

Cocolink 2016, coco coir summit

Coconut industry stakeholders will hold a three-day Cocolink 2016 dubbed “Bridging Industries” on July 27 to 29 at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.

The event is “envisioned to address the challenges and optimize opportunities through cooperation among local and international coconut industry players and enablers.”

On the third day, there will be a 3rd Coco Coir Summit with the theme “Expanding Opportunities for Coco Coir through Technology and Innovation.”

Ayano said the summit aims to gather the stakeholders and key players of the industry from all over the country and assess its performance status, update results of government interventions and share some best practices that can be replicated in other areas.

The summit is also seen to help the industry stakeholders learn about the opportunities offered in the ASEAN Economic Community. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)