NorCot women now earning from ‘coco sugar’ industry PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:54

Officials have called on unemployed women in North Cotabato to emulate the examples and dedication of members of a livelihood cooperative in Carmen town now rising from poverty through their promising “coco sugar” industry.

Seventy women, about half of them members of the ethnic Menuvu group in Barangay Aroman in Carmen now regularly earn money from the sales of their “coco sugar,” derived from fresh sap of what is touted as “tree of life,” the coconut palm.

“Their regular earnings now enables them to help their husbands sustain the schooling of their children and provide for other family needs, “said Mateldo Gerodias, chairman of Barangay Aroman in the northwest of Carmen town, located in the third district of North Cotabato.

Members of the fledgling Aroman Natural Food Women’s Producers’ Cooperative (ANFWPC) are optimistic they can get through the markets outside of the province with the help of government entities helping ensure the competitiveness of their coco sugar.

The coco sugar is a derivative of boiled coconut sap, which is also widely used for vinegar and native wine called “tuba” in most Visayan and Mindanao dialects.

The coconut tree (Cocos Nucifera), also referred to as “coconut palm,” is also known in its  moniker “tree of life,” owing to the so many uses, both for food and industrial purposes, of its raw fruit and oil from its dry form — copra.

The ANFWPC launched last November 13 its packaging facility for its coco sugar product, supplied by the Department of Trade and Industry in Region 12, through its North Cotabato provincial office based in Kidapawan City.

The packaging facility costs P343,000, according to Engineer Anthony Bravo, DTI-12’s provincial director for North Cotabato.

Coco sugar is “extra sweet,” but has very low Glycemic Index, according to experts in the Department of Science and Technology. It is, thus, good for health and not harmful to diabetics.

The women’s cooperative in Carmen, whose benefactors include the office of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, and their municipal government, is a beneficiary of the DTI’s Shared Service Facility (SSF) Project.

The DTI’s SSF project has been helping empower Region 12’s domestic sectors engaged in livelihood crafts through interventions and grant of machinery and special mechanical facilities needed to boost the productivity of beneficiary business organizations and cooperatives in far-flung areas.

“The coco sugar we produce can now be sold in attractive sachets with colorful attractive labels,” Desebel Jadraque, chairwoman of the cooperative, said in the Cebuano dialect.

The cooperative is also being supported by the office of Teotimo Jalos, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Coconut Authority in Region 12, which has a field office in Barangay Aroman.

“We are thankful to the PCA, our municipal government, the office of Gov. Mendoza, and the DTI for helping us become a productive sector here in Carmen,” said Warlita Antatap, who is of Menuvu descent.

Jadraque said the “improving productivity” of the women in Barangay Aroman has also been ushering in positive changes in the lives of the cooperative members.

“Before, practically all of us in the group were unemployed. Some were just going around the barangay, gossiping with neighbors. We had many cases of domestic quarrels among neighbors then at the barangay office. Now we don’t have such cases anymore because of the employment generated by this coco sugar industry,” Jadraque said.

Another Menuvu cooperative member, Lily Tagan, said they can even visit now regularly the beauty salons at the town proper of Carmen to beautify themselves out of their extra earnings from coco sugar production.