This after DOST's research specialists and technologists extended an assistance to PITAD, a group composed of professionals in Northern Samar, in a bid to contribute to the development of the province by stimulating the coco coir industry.
Filipino-run firm based in Catarman, Northern Samar is now actively engaged in manufacturing and marketing world-class soil erosion control nets or geotextiles.
PITAD (a waray word means “a step forward”) Foundation Inc., is composed of small barangay cooperatives and foundations independently producing top quality coco coir fiber twines and export- class coconut fiber-based handicrafts.
The Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), DOST's umbrella agency, supported the PITAD Inc. in converting the coconut husks into high value products, with the first coco husks decorticator installed in Mondragon, Northern Samar.Coco coir, a durable fiber extracted from discarded coconut husks, is now widely used as basic material in making nets, rolls, and mats as protective covers for soils and slopes. It is becoming popular in USA and countries in Southeast Asia. Coco coir is preferred over concrete bricks and peat moss because it is cheaper, renewable, and completely organic. It is also an excellent growing medium for landscape plants and grasses since the fiber has natural rooting hormones and good water-holding capacity.
PITAD Executive Director Samuel Galera revealed that the coco coir production in the province started to flourish when the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) funded the purchase of one unit coco husk decorticating machine and one unit fiber twinning machine in 1997 and 2001, respectively.
DOST provided a total grant-in-aid of P435,000 to PITAD. The machine, according to Gelera, has answered the need for bigger number of twines that will be used in the weaving of geotextile nets. Gelera revealed that there are five coco coir processing plants in the region, all located in Northern Samar.
PITAD, is one of those micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) assisted by DOST through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP) in technology transfer and product quality development.
PITAD was established in 1996 by local engineers with the technical aid of Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), an agency of DOST.
“With the technologies provided by DOST, the production capacity of our laborers has become more efficient. Now, we were able to increase the production of coco fiber twines from 200 kg to 300 kg a day,” Mr. Galera said. This production efficiency has escalated the firm’s annual net income from P664,000 to P1.2 M.
To cope with the increasing market demand, PITAD has increased its number of hired laborers from 15 to 168. Majority of them are contracted for coco coir twines production while the others are engaged in making coco fiber-based handicrafts like bags, potholders, and woven plant containers from their homes.
To date, the firm is earning a net monthly income of P160,000 from coco coir production alone, wherein 60% of its production goes to indirect exporters of coco coir fiber.
According to Mr. Galera, many foreign countries have become aware of the versatility and durability of our coco coir products, owing to the fact that our fiber was tested to have high-grade tensile strength and length.
Here in the Philippines, several government public work projects have been adopting the geotextile technology using coco coir as “soft engineered” structure in controlling landslides and soil erosions. A square meter of coco coir net only costs P60. Its efficiency and durability usually last for three years but the pads tucked underneath the wire could be replaced when they start to decompose.
To this point, the firm is targeting to acquire additional 60 units of twinning machines aside from its 12 units currently in use. This, according to Mr. Galera, is in preparation to cope with the increasing export demand for our coco coir products. “Hopefully, our coco coir would find their way to the markets of France, Italy, and Japan in the near future, “ Mr. Galera added. (DOST)