• Batangas town creating livelihood from coco husks

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    PADRE GARCIA, Batangas: To raise awareness on decorticated coconut husks processing technology that converts what is usually discarded (coconut husks) to coconets and other crafts, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST)- Batangas office and the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Coconut Authority Zamboanga Research Center (PCA-ZRC) conducted the forum “CocoTechKnowledge: Forum and Training on Current Technology on Decorticated Coconut Husk Processing” from May 31 to June 1.

    The forum was also supported by the Distrust IV Women Coordinating Council (DWCC); Municipality of Lobo; Lingkod Barangay Livelihood Program Inc. of Barangay Gasang, Mabini, Batangas; Rep. Lianda Bolilia of the 4th District of Batangas; and the local government of Padre Garcia.

    The two-day activity is part of the DoST Grants-In-Aid Program for DWCC titled, “Establishment of Coconut Husks Common Service Facility in District IV of Batangas.”

    DoST-Batangas office also gathered all local coconet processors to participate in the activity.

    Batangas is one of the country’s largest producers of coconuts and the Philippines produces about 12 billion coconut husks a year, with 75 percent of them thrown away, according to studies.

    To help provide livelihood opportunities, the DWCC, Municipality of Lobo and Lingkod Barangay Livelihood Program ventured to convert discarded coconut husks to useful products.

    Zenaida Fernandez, a forum participant , said she never thought coconut husks can be a source of livelihood. “This type of livelihood can help people in our barangay [village],” she said in Filipino.

    The forum also paved the way for local coconet processors to comply with product standards, and acquire new production technology and techniques when using the decorticating machine developed and designed by PCA-ZRC.

    According to Leo Jess Baya, Christian Dominique Bongcaron and Alshia Beralde of PCA-ZRC, the traditional method to produce coconut husk-based products in rural areas is laborious, time-consuming and unhealthy. It involves soaking the husks in ponds for 4-6 months to break down husk components. The used water and rotten peat give off foul smell, which can endanger people’s health.

    The decorticating machine features a prime mover, shafting assembly that defiberizes the husks, semi-cylindrical casing that houses the machine’s internal mechanism, the intake chute, and the exhaust chute.

    According to PCA-ZRC, design consideration was based on affordability and adaptability to village-level operations, reasonable production output with acceptable fiber quality and safety of operation. The coconut husk-decorticating machine’s output is 800 kilograms of dried fiber and 1.5 tons of coir dust per day.

    Bolilia said coconut husk-based products can become a family enterprise for DWCC members. According to her, most of the non-employed people in the rural areas are housewives who can now have the opportunity to earn using the decorticated coconut husk processing system of PCA-ZRC.

    “Success cannot happen overnight with this enterprise. So we need to be prepared to excel over the long term,” she said in Filipino.

    The decorticating machine is driven by a single-piston 22-horsepower diesel engine running at 2,200 rpm (rated). Its engine is mounted on a metal cart that can be towed by a tractor or a working animal. On the other hand, the shafting assembly has seven sets of blade consisting of four blades per set or a total of 28 blades uniformly set at 12-degree angle inclination arranged in spiral pattern along the length of the shafting.

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