MinDA pushes for devt of coco coir industry-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
Davao City -- Mindanao’s coconut industry will soon get a big boost as Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) forms an inter-agency group that will ensure the growth of the island's coco coir industry.
“No less than our President encouraged us to look into further developing this industry, as he recognizes the significant contributions of the coconut industry to our economy,” said MinDA Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino during the inter-agency meeting held here recently.
President Benigno S. Aquino III stressed during his State of the Nation Address that the national government has allotted P1.75 billion for the development of the coconut industry.
"Sa susunod na taon, lalong mapapakinabangan ang industriya ng niyog," the President said.
Antinono also added that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) would be able to allocate initial funds for the proposal developed by the concerned agencies.
MinDA, with Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the private sector committed during the meeting to identify all the requirements and technology necessary to make coco coir production and processing more accessible for farmers.
The Philippines currently has the highest nut production volume among all the top coconut producing countries like Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, with an estimated output of 12.46 billion tons per year. However, only 0.05 percent of these are being utilized for fiber production or 8,000 tons of fiber annually, while 30 percent is used for fuel utilization.
India, on the other hand, which has an estimated output of 12.16 billion tons of coconuts was able to produce at least 500,000 tons of fiber every year. Vietnam also utilizes its entire coconut output for fiber production.
Coco coir is among the many byproducts of coconut trees and is seen to be an additional source of income for farmers once the needed technology and resources for coco coir production and processing are available. Once processed, it can be converted into several products such as ropes, coco peat, coco pots, doormats, and carpets.
“It is good that we have MinDA to compel other concerned agencies to really focus on the needs of this industry. Coco coir will surely provide more market for our coconut farmers who have long been dependent on copra products,” said Rex Buac of PCA IX.
Coconut oil remains as the major coconut export of the Philippines with a total production of 2.3 million tons in 2011.
DTI assured that the demand for the coco coir commodity is also promising both locally and internationally.China and Europe are the top importers of geo-textiles made of coco coir.
“While there’s no doubt on the worldwide demand for coco coir, it should also be noted that from the domestic demands alone, our coco coir supplies are already insufficient,” reported Reynaldo Go, Vice President of Philippine Coco Coir Export Producers Association, Inc. (Philcoir).
Demand for coco coir in the country is also seen to increase once the DPWH implements the use coco-net coir fiber in sloppy and flood-prone areas of Mindanao as part of its flood mitigation program.
Similarly, coco-net fibers are also being widely produced in Caraga Region, providing employment to hundreds of farming families in the region. It supplies mainly to Taganito Mining firm which uses coco-net products to prevent soil erosion in their mining areas.
“If it can be done in Caraga, it can be done in other regions as well,” said Antonino.
She urged the agencies to have a coordinated mechanism in order to move forward the coco coir industry all throughout Mindanao. “It helps if one agency knows what the other agencies are doing, so we also know how we can complement each other’s efforts,” she added.
Any firmed up step is also seen to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the families in conflict affected areas of Mindanao.
Besides economic benefits, the coco coir industry could be one of the answers to the existing poverty and security problems in Mindanao, according to MinDA.
“When people have livelihood that provides them enough money for a sufficient meal three times a day, I believe that peace and order would be more attainable in our Mindanao communities,” said Antonino.
An inter-agency proposal is already being prepared under the oversight of MinDA. Once approved, resource distribution and training are expected to be rolled-out in targeted areas of Mindanao within the year. (MinDA/PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 11, 2012.