BAYBAY CITY– The regional Department of Trade and Industry and its Leyte provincial office, in partnership with the City Government here, its agriculture services office, the Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Public Work and Highways, and the cooperative AFFIRE, launched on Friday, October 4, a “Shared Service Facility” which is aimed at increasing the income of coconut farmers in Brgy. Maybog and Caridad by producing coco-twine and geo-nets at household levels.
The launching was attended by DTI regional director Cynthia Nierras, who is also the national coco-coir coordinator, DTI provincial director Desiderio Belas, Jr., city vice mayor Michael L. Cari, and representatives from the PCA, DPWH and AFFIRE.
DTI delivered on site 24 wheels to produce coco-twine and six handlooms to produce geo-nets.
Noli Almaden, president of the Maybog Farmers Association (MAFA), received the equipments. Some 60 members of the association were already trained in producing the twine and nets.
Almaden said that they still have to determine how the machines will be distributed among the members but in the meantime, it would remain at the barangay gym where the members would master their craft.
Nierras, in an interview, said that she is confident that the livelihood project in Maybog and other areas would succeed. It is the second such facility that was launched in the province, the first one was in Javier, Leyte, a few weeks ago. Another one would be launched in Abuyog, she added, aside from other areas.
She pointed out that aside from a huge demand abroad for coco-twines and geo-nets, it had a ready local market which had yet to be filled up. “The community based endeavors will fill up the local market, while the big producers would prefer the export market”, she said.
In the case of Maybog, it will be AFFIRE that will buy the produce from the farmers, which will in turn be sold to the DPWH. That is why the DPWH was also represented, Nierras said, to show the commitment of the agency to buy the organic materials from the grassroots source.
Pres. Benigno Aquino III recently issued an executive order for DPWH to use geo-nets and coco-coir for anti-erosion measures along highways and critical slopes. Then, peanut grass would be planted on top to provide a living carpet which would further help stem erosion.
Nierras also urged the farmer-cooperators to have patience in twining. She said that their first produce would not be plentiful but as they master their craft, it would become easier.
“Learn strategies how to increase your output”, she said, adding that there is a family in Eastern Samar where four kids go to school during the day, while their father tends to the farm. When they come home, they twine together and earn P 6,000.00 a month “additional income” for the family.
Nierras added that if the output of MAFA would be good, that the agency will look into the possibility of giving them more twining wheels and looms.
Meanwhile, vice mayor Michael L. Cari, in welcoming the important guests to Baybay City and the good tidings they brought, said they are happy that coconut is finally getting the attention of government agencies. For a long time already, he said, they have focused on promoting coconut, because it was plentiful in their city.
In fact, he said, during the time of his brother, Rep. Jose Carlos L. Cari, when he was still mayor, two coconut oil mills located at Baybay. Now, he pointed out, even the husk is already being processed.
Just nearby, he added, will open a coco-coir plant which will solely export their coir and peat to Mainland China. However, as a safety net for the farmers who are into twining and geo-net making, they have made the plant owner commit to retain a certain percentage of their husks to supply the local people for twine and geo-net processing.
During the program, the various agencies voiced their commitments. PCA said it would beef up their programs to increase yield as more nuts would mean more husks for the farmers; AFFIRE to buy the twine and nets from MAFA; DPWH to continue buying the nets from AFFIRE. By Lalaine M. Jimenea