Brick industry from Pulangi’s silts, others pushed for social enterprise

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/03 May)— From the streams in Mt. Kitanglad to the Pulangi River leading to the Pulangi dam, there is a serious siltation problem in Bukidnon, said Emmanuel Alkuino, a member of the Board of Regents of Central Mindanao University (CMU).

“But if there is a problem, social enterprise can find a solution to address it,” he stressed before the Strictly Business News Conference last week in promoting the 1st Mindanao Social Business Summit on June 4-6 to be held at the CMU.

Alkuino said that “six billion cubic meters of silt are only waiting to be made into bricks,” a promising industry providing alternative to concrete hollow blocks traditionally used in the construction industry.

3_bricksAlkuino shows samples of bricks made from Pulangi’s silts.

Through social enterprise, he cited that Pulangi’s silt can be developed into a hollow block alternative, which will “cut the cost of construction of a building by half.”

Making 200,000 bricks a day, it will take 250 years to exhaust the silts in the Pulangi dam, Alkuino estimated.

He said it is a “renewable” resource as the volume of silt added into the area every year is about the size of Mt. Musuan (Mt. Calayo), which is reportedly 644 meters above sea level.

Alkuino noted that “from Mt. Kitanglad to Pulangi to Rio Grande de Mindanao, the siltation problem is already serious.”

He suggested an option to prevent more siltation, by planting local giant bamboo that can also be developed as another social enterprise.

The province can proceed to industrial processing of giant bamboo because of the negative implications of using wood, Alkuino said.

“There is nothing wood can do that bamboo cannot do,” he said.

Aside from bricks and bamboo, he also pushed Arabica coffee farming as an alternative livelihood that can use the social enterprise model.

Another industry he cited is citronella oil from the plant of the same name as another product that can be developed in the province using social enterprise.

Alkuino said that products like bricks, bamboo, Arabica coffee and citronella oil will not only provide livelihood but will also address the need for reforestation and environment protection in general.

He explained that social enterprise strives to resolve conflict between labor and the capitalists.

“We are not intending to take the wealth away from the rich and give it to the poor,” Alkuino said, adding that social enterprises “espouse win-win relations between the rich and the poor.”

Farmers should also consider farming as a business enterprise, with the rich sharing their knowledge through mentoring to help farmers grow, he said.

With that scheme and the “power of the poor in number, there will be inclusive growth,” he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)