Coconut Husks Stakeholders’ Forum 2021

The Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF) Mindanao, under the project “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth Through the Valorization of Coconut Husks” Project organized the Coconut Husks Stakeholder’s Forum last December 9, 2021 at Asencia Resto Bar, Lapu-lapu St., Digos City.

The forum was undertaken every year to update on the project’s targets and accomplishments to the stakeholders, as well as the current status and upcoming plans. Moreover, it aimed to disseminate information regarding the coconut industry, the policies around it, and the available programs and services for coconut farmers from government agencies. This way, partner organizations would be more aware of the national and local situation and the opportunities that are present for them.

Around forty guests and participants attended the hybrid forum, which was a mix of face-to-face and virtual conference. Project staff and other IRDF staff are present, as well as the Managing Director of project partner BIOGROW, Mr. Clement Jacquot. Partner cooperatives and organizations from Bansalan Multipurpose Cooperative (BCS MPC), Kahugpongan sa Kababayen-ang Mag-uuma sa Barayong (KKMB), San Vicente Coconut Farmers Association (SANVICOFA), Tacul Agribased Farmers and Workers Association (TAFWA), Basiawan Farmers Agrarian Reform Association (BFARBA), Free Trade Farmers Credit Cooperative MPC (FFCC-MPC), Disa Multipurpose Cooperative (DIPAMOPCO), Taluntalunan Small Coconut Farmers Association (TASCOFA), Tubon Coconut Farmers Association (TUCOFA), San Isidro Kidapawan Small Coconut Farmers Association (SIKSCOFA), and Tamlangon Women Workers Association (TWWA) participated in the forum.

Representatives from the national coalition KILUS Magniniyog, key agencies — Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) regional office, served as guest speakers.

Ms. Maria Teresa Diokno, project manager of the “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth Through the Valorization of Coconut Husks” Project, virtually presented on the project introduction and implementation updates. She also highlighted the sustainability challenges that the project is facing and proposed action plans to address them.

On the other hand, Mr. Clement Jacquot, Managing Director of BIOGROW, gave a background on BIOGROW’s coco peat business and their partnership with the project and coconut farming communities. He also mentioned the updates on the technical aspect of the project, specifically in construction of facilities, delivery volume, chipping mill capacity, and operational trainings.

National consultant of KILUS Magniniyog, Mr. Joey Faustino shared about the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund. KILUS Magniniyog is a national coalition of farmer’s organizations campaigning for the recovery and utilization of the coco levy for the development and direct benefit of smallholder farmers. He explained how the coco levy will be utilized according to the law and how the small coconut farmers can benefit from it. After his presentation, the participants were able to know the status of the coconut levy fund, wherein they can make proposals to possibly engage in coconut projects through the assistance of the agencies also present during the forum.

Engr. Maria Victoria Placer, provincial Director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Office, presented the accomplishments plans and programs of the agency. She shared about the agency’s activities like training, product development, and assisting in supply chain. She also featured their skills development trainings for value-adding like participation in market matching, participation in conferences, benchmarking, capacity building, logistics support, and innovation for business recovery plan. Meanwhile, Mr. Joel Alcoser from the Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), presented information on their plans and projects. He discussed on the standards on coconut coir and the products that are derived from it. He further mentioned that PhilFIDA is willing to give trainings on value-adding of coconut products to provide additional income for farmers, women, and youth.

In closing, Executive director of the IRDF, Ms. Arze Glipo, thanked all the guests and participants and shared her synthesis on the forum. She expressed her gratitude for the participation of the farmer-members of partner organizations and hoped that they will continue be active in their engagement. She mentioned that the IRDF and its partners are always willing to support their livelihoods, to provide trainings, and to help increase their awareness, among others.

Furthermore, she highlighted how the forum presented issues and challenges, but introduced opportunities as well. The forum concluded and it was successful in presenting such vital information to the participants. The project partners IRDF and BIOGROW, along with all of the partner cooperatives and organizations, are hopeful that they can further increase the capacity of coconut farmers and create more jobs in the community.

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