PIA Press Release
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
DA cites potential of coco fiber, peat for export
by Jerome Carlo R. Paunan
MANILA, April 4 (PIA)–“Coconut fiber and peat or dust could be turned into gold.”
This was how Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala described the potential of processing coconut fiber and peat into geo-textiles, organic fertilizer, and soil conditioner during the first coconut coir summit held in Davao City recently.
According to Alcala, these raw materials could earn for the country millions of dollars in exports, and provide additional income and livelihood to hundreds of thousands of small coconut farmers and their families in the countryside.
“Collecting merely one-half or six billion coconut husks, and processing these into coco geo-textiles and organic fertilizers, the country could generate at least $225 million annually,” he said.
Alcala said President Benigno S. Aquino III earlier directed concerned government agencies to strongly support, promote, and develop the coco coir and peat industry.
He said that because of the President’s challenge, government will work overtime to achieve optimum production and export potentials in order to benefit millions of small farmers and ruralfolk who directly depend on the coconut industry as a major source of income and livelihood.
The DA’s Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) estimates that the country produces some 12 billion coconuts annually.
For his part, PCA administrator Euclides G. Forbes said geo-textiles or “cocomats” serve as erosion control material that are laid on mountain slopes, river banks, and dam embankments.
Coconut fibers, on the other hand, are also transformed into twine or yarn, while fine coco fibers are used in making beds or mattresses. Coconut peat or dust is used as organic fertilizer, soil conditioner, or animal beddings, he said.
For every kilo of coconut husk, 30 percent or 300 grams of fiber or coir can be extracted, and the rest is coco peat or dust, Forbes said.
The DA will develop the fledgling coco fiber and peat industry in partnership with the departments of trade and industry (DTI), public works and highways (DPWH), and science and technology (DOST), small coconut farmers’ cooperatives and federations, and the private sector, particularly the Philippine Coco Coir Exporters Association, Inc. and the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF).
“On exports, China remains one big untapped export market,” Alcala said.
While other potential buyers of geo-textiles and coco peat organic fertilizer and soil conditioner are Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada, and the USA, he said.
He said China alone imports 200,000 tons of coco fiber annually, driven by its increasing demand for mattresses, he said.
Demand has prompted the setting up of over 50 coir production workshops in the country, which are not enough, he said.
“In China, to date we only seize merely 0.05 percent of its coco fiber imports. The room for further growth is therefore immense,” the DA chief said.
Relatively, data from the PCA showed that last year the country exported less than 5,000 metric tons (MT) of coconut coir worth roughly $6.5 million. Sri Lanka is the leading exporter, at more than 150,000 MT. (JCP/RJB – PIA-NCR)