Tuesday, September 07, 2010

DA agency, private firms ink agreement to develop coco peat dryer

Photo shows (from left to right) Noel T. Florido, FilCoco president, Ricardo L. Cachuela, PHilMech Director, Victoriano B. Ocon, Suki Trading Corporation president and Manolito C. Bulaong, PHilMech director for research and development show the copy of signed MOA. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Erwin Embuscado)

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 7, 2010) - The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization of the Department of Agriculture signed a memorandum of agreement with private sectors to develop a drying system for export quality coco peat, in a simple ceremony, here.

The coco peat is also known as coir fiber pith or coir dust. This high value powder is the by-product when the coconut husks are processed.

The raw coconuts are washed and heat-treated before being processed into coco peat products. These are used for horticultural and agricultural applications.

Among the private firms who partnered with PHilMech are the FilCoco Ventures Inc., a private corporation engaged in the production and exportation of coco peat and the Suki Trading Corporation, a Cebu-based machinery manufacturer.

Manolito C. Bulaong, PHilMech director for research and development said the coco peat is used as a growing medium and soil conditioner. It is also widely used by vegetable growers using hydroponics.

One of the critical factors in making coco peat is the moisture content. “The moisture content should be 20 percent so that it will be easily compressed to form into slabs,” Bulaong said.

Meanwhile, Noel T. Florido, president of FilCoco Ventures Inc., said the country has abundant resources. However, they need drying facilities to supply the requirement of the world market.

According to Florido, the United States and European markets need thousand of containers of coco peat annually.

“The industry has a great export potential. We are far behind India and Sri Lanka, when in fact we can also be competitive,” Florido said.

Based on the agreement, PHilMech will design a drying system for export quality coco peat in collaboration with the Suki Trading Corporation. PHilMech and Suki Trading will also be responsible on the performance testing and evaluation of the prototype design.

Prior to this, PHilMech already set-up a flatbed dryer with biomass furnace for drying coco coir at the FilCoco processing plant in Alabat, Quezon.

FilCoco also plan to promote corporate farming to help the coconut growers in the area by giving them the opportunity to market their products. Thus, giving them added income.

Florido sees this move as a way to help the families in the island uplift their socio-economic status. “It pains me to see children who are working while their parents are just playing cards,” he said.

He also said, “Our venture into this business is a noble project because this will help alleviate poverty. There is future in the coconut industry.”

Signing the agreement for the project “Development of a Drying System for Export Quality

Coco peat” were PHilMech Director Ricardo L. Cachuela, Manolito C. Bulaong, Noel T. Florido and Victoriano B. Ocon of Suki Trading Corporation. (Erwin Embuscado)

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