Going nuts against COVID
Quezon - With the sudden high interest for virgin coconut oil (VCO) because of claims to its ability to strengthen the immune system, other coconut products are also gaining prominence for its health benefits and other uses.
In Quezon, considered as the country’s coconut capital, consumer products such coco sugar, tuba (coconut wine), vinegar, coco coir, and coco jam are being marketed by social enterprise partners of Peace and Equity Foundation, helping farmers recover from last year’s falling prices of copra.
Coco Sugar from CocoDeli
Delio Sinapilo, owner of CocoDeli, shared how their social enterprise began to climb their way as one of the top coconut processors in the province.
“Nag-umpisa kami sa sampung puno, kung saan ako mismo ang umaakyat nangunguha ng niyog. Lambanog lang ang una naming produkto dahil sa (coconut) sap pa lang marami na kaming pwedeng gawin.”
CocoDeli produces vinegar, tuba, coconut syrup, and coconut cider. One of their most popular products is coconut sugar, which also comes from coconut sap.
“Pagka-akyat pa lang ng farmers sa puno, ibaba agad ito sa manufacturing area kung saan iluluto ito for at least four to five hours,” CocoDeli’s General Manager Rodel Sinapilo explained.
Coconut sugar is a good alternative to common table sugars with its additional minerals and antioxidants.
Virgin coconut oil from GreenLife
With the recent studies being conducted by the government to test VCO as an alternative supplement against COVID-19, producers like GreenLife in Tayabas, Quezon, are reaping the benefits from the increasing demand.
Greenlife ramped up their production of VCO as domestic and foreign sales are in upward climb during the pandemic.
“VCO is being perceived as a miracle food. A food that prevents viruses. It is considered an antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal. Noong idineklara ang ECQ nung March, on and off kami ang trabaho namin. Ngayon, tuloy-tuloy kami at nagdagdag na kami ng tao sa processing,” GreenLife Chief Executive Officer Francisco Rubio said.
Rubio encouraged consumers to support local coconut products, as it will also help many coconut farmers increase their income.
“VCO is not only a supplement. It can also be used in cooking and massaging. With people supporting this high-value product, we can help a lot of farmers move out of poverty,” he urged.
Coco Coir from Tropical Prime
Coco Coir comes from the fibrous coconut husks inside coconut shells. It can be made into products such as floor and door mats and even mattresses. Tropical Prime Credit Cooperative, a processor in Quezon, employs coconut twiners to create coconets or “geonets.
“Sa kasalukuyan, mga nasa 50 po kaming naglulubid (twiners). At talagang kumikita ang ating mga kasama,” Lota Ruby of Mulanay, Quezon said.
Geonets help in preventing soil erosion in areas where there are public works. They are being put in sloping areas where there is no vegetation.
Coconut jam and ketchup from Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative
Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative Quezon 2, a cooperative based in Padre Burgos, Quezon, is also active in aquaculture in the area. As an additional incentive, some members are also employed in coconut farming and production of other coconut products.
During the Coconut Bazaar in Lucena City in August, the cooperative showcased and sold their coconut-based products which include vinegar, jams and ketchup.
In 2019 alone, PEF supported coconut enterprises through loans and grants amounting to Php 21,228,000 to assist coconut farmers in five provinces.