MOGPOG, Marinduque – Coconut is a leading agricultural commodity in Marinduque and it is one of the top five high value commodities in the entire MIMAROPA Region. In 2014, the island province of Marinduque had an area of more than 35,000 hectares planted with coconuts.
Development of the industry of the top commodities, being the core of agricultural production of the country, is one of the priorities of Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).
Industry development is really necessary particularly in the case of Marinduque. Copra production is the province’s primary source of income, but it was affected when typhoon Nina hit the province.
The “Marinduque Coco Geonets Production and Processing” is an enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject with an estimated cost of P6.77 million that will be implemented by the Tanikala ng Pagkakaisa Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TPMPC) with funding support from PRDP. The proponent group is based in the Municipality of Boac and it intends to provide income opportunities to small-scale farmers by developing an alternative livelihood.
Specifically, the proposed subproject will utilize coconut husks which are the waste materials from producing copra. The biodegradable husks will be decorticated to make a semi-processed material called coco fiber or coir which will be twisted through the use of a machine to make twines.
Woven coco fiber twines make geonets—the main product of the TPMPC. Geonets are usually used in slope stabilization, shoreline protection, landscaping, and in other industrial purposes. The process of decortication also produces coco peat which may serve as an organic fertilizer or deodorizing medium as a rice hull substitute for backyard swine growers.
A similar venture is also being undertaken by the P1.32 million-worth “Butansapa Coco Coir Processing” subproject of the Butansapa Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BBMPC) and the P1.33 million-worth “Nangka Coco Coir Processing” subproject of the Nangka CARP Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (NCBMPC). The two proponent groups are respectively based in Mogpog and Torrijos.
As start-up micro-enterprises, the two subprojects will concentrate on producing and marketing coco coir, coco fiber twines, and coco peat. Coco coir and coco fiber twines are highly in demand materials not just in the production of geonets, but of handicrafts, upholstery cushions, boat sealants, and other similar products as well.
Aside from the coconut farmers of Marinduque, the province’s arrowroot farmers will also benefit from PRDP. Another I-REAP subproject is the “Arrowroot Production and Processing” proposed by the Malbog Multi-Purpose Farmer’s Cooperative (MMPFC) from Buenavista. With the proposed budget of P1.34 million, the enterprise will expand the manufacturing of arrowroot flour to provide additional income-generating activities for its beneficiaries.
The practice of multi-cropping is common among coconut and arrowroot growers in the province. Arrowroot, locally known as ‘uraro’, is also a widely known agricultural commodity in Marinduque. In 2014, the province yielded at least 1,000 metric tons of rhizomes from 87 hectares of arrowroot plantation.
The arrowroot flour that will be manufactured by the MMPFC is made from mechanically crushing the rhizomes and then drying the extracted product. It is a key ingredient in making the world-famous arrowroot cookies and other food products.
The PRDP, implemented by the Department of Agriculture with the assistance of local government units, aims to modernize the agri-fishery sector by providing the essential technology that will help raise its competence and productivity.
The abovementioned subprojects are designed to help PRDP achieve its objectives. The enterprises will provide diversified forms of livelihood for farmers in areas where coconut and arrowroot resources are particularly limited.