One consumer product from the “Tree of Life” called coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) is in the pipeline for commercialization. The proposed product is coco juice blended with tropical fruits and vegetables which could be exported globally due to the high demand of healthier products. Indeed, the ‘new’ product will boost the Coconut Industry of the country, but a manna from heaven for the coco farmers.

The government has tasked the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), to develop a technology for coconut farmers to venture into value added products like the fruit- and veggie-blended coconut juice drink.

The common practice among farmers engaged in copra making, is just to throw away the coconut water when farmers extract coconut meat for drying to produce copra for drying, which are then sold to oil mills to produce coconut oil. The gallons of coconut water wasted is the main component in producing value-added coco juice blended with preferably tropical fruits and vegetables to improve the family income.

The PHilMech has a parallel project which uses coconut water to produce coconut beverage it has developed for the new product, they hope to introduce to the coconut cooperatives as a small scale enterprize.

Under RA 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, PhilMech will establish shared facilities for coconut farmers cooperative and local government units (LGUs). The shared facilities will have various equipment that will allow coco farmers to enter value chain of the commodity. The PhilMech’s coconut water processing technology, using the Greenhouse Solar Tunnel Dryer (GSTD) can process up to 2,000 nuts, approximately 2,000 bottles (350 ml) coconut water per day. Meanwhile the MCSTD can dry coconut meat using heat from the sun, while producing white copra and protecting the product from contamination. White copra has a higher market value.

Coming from the country’s high copra-producing region (Eastern Visayas), I have been a witness to the wastage of coconut water every copra making months. This is cold cash thrown as waste, but for a small percentage of the coco farmers population keeping few liters of the said water to be aged into vinegar. I could not blame the lowly coconut farmers for their ignorance on the many uses of coco water. The devolving of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Technician unit to the LGU is the culprit for want of technicians to visit farms and dialogue with farmers about modernized farming methods. This link mechanism with the farmers is now manned by unqualified staff with only political patronage/eligibility as qualification to the MENRO, CENRO or PENRO workforce!

I have written in this column suggesting that LGUs with large coconut plantation, to put up coconut water depository cum collecting stations to be collected by one private firm dealing coconut water processing – a clear additional income for the farming families in Leyte province, specially the town of Burauen.

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