Zambo farmers group gets coco-sweetener facility from DTI

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/26 June) – A local organization got a boostfor its coconut sweetening processing venture from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

On Wednesday, the Malandi Patalon Zamboanga City Agrarian Reform Association (MAPZACARA) received a set of coco-sweetening equipment from DTI through the agency’s Shard Service Facility.

The equipment included four fabricated brick stoves and two liquefied petroleum gas-fired hobs.

Rolando Acuña, DTI-Zamboanga City Director, said the equipment could easily handle 160 liters of toddy locally known as tuba, which can produce about 20 kilos of coco-sweetener daily.

Acuña said the working tables, stove tops, and most of the other equipment are all made of stainless steel for durability to ensure that the production process comply with Food and Drug Administration standards.

Citing an article from Wikipedia, Acuña said coco-sweetener is good for diabetics as its Glycemic Index was reported by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to be as low as 35.

Coconut sugar has a high mineral content, being a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In addition, it contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. Compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 18 times the potassium, 30 times the phosphorus and over 10 times the amount of zinc, he said.

The large amounts of potassium and phosphorus can be explained by the way coconut sugar is tapped from the inflorescences of the tree. The coconut sap, from which coconut sugar is derived, contains 16 amino acids, including Glutamine, he added.

He noted that coco-sweetener has economic potential due to its increasing popularity as a sugar substitute in the domestic and international markets.

MAPZACARA chair Habil Tiblani said his group has received various assistance from DTI, PCA and the Department of Agrarian Reform including trainings and seedlings.

Tiblani said the equipment they received this week would boost the association’s productivity. He cited that before they could only produce five kilos of coco sugar monthly “because of the difficulty in cooking”.

“Prior to the granting of the SSF equipment, we have to make do with makeshift stoves, often just a hole in the ground, plus improvised kitchen paraphernalia to cook the coconut toddy (tuba) into coco syrup and finally into granules which we call coco sugar,” he said. (MindaNews)