Maguindanao women go for ‘green gold’ for added income, economic growth PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 20 October 2013 13:55

Thirty-five Moro women from different towns in Maguindanao are working on reaping the benefits of ‘green gold’ that can be harvested free anytime from swamps and rivers in the province.

The moniker green gold refers to the fast-growing water hyacinths covering the surface of the nearby 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta and those floating on big rivers straddling through the province.

The 35 entrepreneurs, some of them from towns where there are enclaves of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), underwent training on water hyacinth handicrafts from Oct. 14-8 under the Provincial Water Hyacinth Development Program (PWHDP).

Lea Sagan, who oversees PWHDP, said the training was jointly organized by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and the Villar Foundation, through Sen. Cynthia Villar.

Sagan said the five-day training was assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology.

Mangudadatu said he did not hesitate to bankroll the training owing to its relevance to the efforts of Malacañang and the MILF to jointly provide economic empowerment to Moro communities while both sides are still trying to craft a final peace deal.

So abundant are water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes) floating on swamps and rivers that connect to the Liguasan Marsh, which is located at the tri-boundary of Central Mindanao’s adjoining Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces.

Mangudadatu said he is grateful to the Villar Foundation for providing manual water hyacinth stalk flattening machines to the 35 beneficiaries of the PWHDP.

“And that was just the first batch,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu and Sagan are both confident that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) can help establish linkages among local entrepreneurs and buyers abroad.

Mangudadatu said he wants a ‘direct connection’ between local producers of water hyacinth products, such as bags, decors and ornaments, with buyers in Metro Manila and abroad.

“If we are to empower local producers, we must help them sell their products to buyers in Europe, in the Middle East and in the United States of America,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu, however, said local producers must first aim for competitiveness by ensuring the high quality of the bags and decors they can produce from water hyacinth stalks.

Sagan said the provincial government’s water hyacinth program also complements OPAPP’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program in Maguindanao.

OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles and the office of Mangudadatu have ongoing Pamana projects in Maguindanao benefiting impoverished Moro communities and former Moro National Liberation Front combatants.