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DOLE MIMAROPA brings Coco Coir in Southern Palawan

  

 

With the suspension of two mining companies in Palawan last year—Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation, with operations at Narra and Española, and Berong Nickel Corporation, situated at Quezon—DOLE  MIMAROPA pioneered in giving immediate intervention by bringing the ingenious Coco Coir to the displaced mine workers and their families as an alternative livelihood. 

 

Creation of the project

Inspired from the Coco Coir and Peat Enterprise of Villar SIPAG Foundation, Regional Director of DOLE MIMAROPA, Atty. Alvin Villamor pursued that the same project be done to the region due to its abundant coconut resources and big market profitability. Dried coco husks are processed in a decorticating machine until the fibers are extracted. Once the fibers have been collected, workers will then weave and twine these fibers into rope-like materials used for coco nets. The Villar SIPAG has funded all equipment required to produce coco nets of Las Piñas Coco Coir workers since 2008. These coco nets from Las Piñas are currently sold to Vista Land, a publicly listed housing development company, for their slope protection and soil erosion control requirements. (www.villarsipag.org)

Due to the temporary cessation and closure of several mining companies in the country last 2016, two mining operations in Palawan were listed and thus, more than 3,000 workers were affected, leaving them unemployed. With the Department of Labor and Employment’s thrust to promote gainful employment opportunities, through its DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) or most commonly known as the Kabuhayan Program, RD Atty. Villamor saw this as an opportunity to immediately implement the Coco Coir for the displaced mine workers. With DOLE MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director, Roderick Tamacay as the focal person of this feat, after careful study and coordination to concerned agencies and groups, the plan was then turned to a reality.    

 

Introducing the Coco Coir to the community

 

ARD Roderick Tamacay assisted the creations of the displaced workers association as beneficiaries for this project.  Four associations were formed namely, (1) Coco Net Coir Association, (2) Coco Net Power Association, (3) Samahang Kabuhayan ng Bato-Bato, and (4) Pulot Interior Association. The first two groups were from Berong Nickel Corporation and the last two were from Citinickel Mines & Development Corporation. Last January 24-25, 2017, DOLE MIMAROPA held the Coco Coir Summit at Crystal Paradise and Resort, Narra, Palawan, to formally discuss and enlighten the beneficiaries and stakeholders about the Coco Coir project. Aside from the beneficiaries and DOLE MIMAROPA representatives, attendees were the BLGU, DTI, and Western Philippines   University’s     College of Agricultural Engineering, headed by Engr. Josue L. Peneyra, who presented their prototypes of equipment used for Coco Coir extraction. The latter group then initiated their partnership with DOLE MIMAROPA, and inked a Memorandum of Agreement regarding the project. As one of the stakeholders, they will be giving free assistance in the maintenance of the machines and training of the beneficiaries. They will monitor, evaluate, and act as consultants to the workers. This will be called as a training facility concept wherein the OJTs from WPU will be enrolled through the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) or Government-Internship Program (GIP) of the Department.  

 

Prospective market

 

Coco coir has a proven high-tensile strength which makes it a valuable material for vegetation     and land rehabilitation. As for the target buyers of the coco nets,      Citinickel Mining and Development Corporation, Berong Nickel Corporation, and the Department of Public Works and Highways already expressed their commitment to support the Coco Coir program in Palawan and pledged to buy the coco nets of the four associations for rehabilitation of mining sites as well as slope protection and soil erosion control of road construction projects.

 

Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority will also be tapped for the coco nets to be used in the fertilization of agricultural crops.

 

Awarding the raw materials and equipment to the beneficiaries

 

On February 14 to 17, 2017, DOLE MIMAROPA headed by ARD Roderick Tamacay, held the Training cum Production on Coco Net Making on the four associations. The equipment were purchased from Agro Rijonice Corporation, a private supplier of the coconut decorticating machine. With the help of Palawan PESO through PESO Manager, Richard Rebote, four sets of coco net weaving equipment were transported from Puerto Princesa to Española and Narra for the respective beneficiaries of CMDC. As for the recipients from BNC, the said mining company gave free assistance in the transport of the equipment and provided the training area for the respective groups. The three supplier’s representatives, led by Dhezzo Galvan, traveled all the way from Osamis City, Mindanao, installed each of the association’s machines and offered hands-on training on coco net weaving for two days. ARD Rod Tamacay lectured on the costing of the produced coco nets. Upon completion of training, the DOLE Palawan Field Office, headed by Mr. Peter James Cortezano, awarded the equipment and checks amounting to Php 50,000.00 to the respective representatives of each group.

 

Glimpse of hope

 

Epifanio Millendez, President of the Pulot Interior Association in Española, and former CMDC worker, thanked the Department profusely, saying that the assistance they received from DOLE MIMAROPA were timely. “Malaking tulong po talaga ito sa amin. Maraming salamat po sa DOLE at sa lahat ng tao at ahensya na nakiisa at naging bahagi ng programang ito para maiparating sa amin ang tulong ng gobyerno. Lubos po ang pasasalamat namin sa pag aksyon ng DOLE lalo pa noong nawalan kami ng trabaho gawa ng pagsara ng mga minahan. Sa mga inihandog na kagamitan at training, paghuhusayan namin ang bagong trabaho na ipinagkaloob po sa amin.”

 

As per ARD Roderick Tamacay, he sees a lot of potential of this program. From a wider-perspective, the newly-launched Coco Coir project, the first in the region, will open the door to more livelihood opportunities especially to far flung municipalities in the province. “May mga nag-commit na buyers na. Wala nang problema sa bibili. Ang kailangan lang ay sipag, tiyaga, at determinasyon ng mga beneficiaries.” He stressed that if this project will be successful, the income generated from coco nets can exceed those that they get from the mining industries. If the project then becomes sustainable, Palawan can be recognized as one of the top producers of coco nets in the country, and thus may lead to a community-enterprise which will generate a larger number of employment.

 

End/Anna Dominique C. Magbanua

 

 

 

 

 

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2017-02-27
ATTY ALVIN VILLAMOR

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