Coconut Fiber is a by-product made entirely from coconut husks—that is by the way, often thrown out and is most times considered as an agricultural waste. The production of this material is a completely natural process that requires rigorous effort, a tremendous amount of patience, and also skills.
It has been discovered, that this so called “agricultural waste” is a very versatile material that can be harvested, weaved and crafted in to many varied products. The further production and manufacturing of this product can help mitigate the harsh effects of global warming which is very useful for environmental protection. The avid misconception of coconut husks as agricultural waste has been one of the common cause of floods in certain areas here in the Philippines, as chunks and chunks of this material block the drainage systems during rainfall season.
Coconut fiber can be used to make so many different products and by-products. The possibilities are just seemingly endless. The flexibility of this product is highly resourceful because the usage is probable from geo-textile nets to decorative handicrafts and even to its coco peats that are excess dusts that fall off from the drying process. So, there is not one factor of the product that will come to a waste.
The products of this material range from geo-textile, its main product that whose major consumer is the Department of Public Works and Highways.They use the nets to control erosion in sloping areas along the roads and river banks. The coco net is installed in sloping areas together with seeds of grasses or shrubs. By the time the coco net has degraded after three years, the grasses or shrubs will have been well established to prevent erosion.
The expansion and promotion of this product has led its way to West Visayas State University Extension and Development Centre, Lapaz, Iloilo City, Iloilo which has organized this craft as its project. The central domain of this project was built in Tubungan, Iloilo (Sitio Durog, Brgy. Lanag Sur, Tubungan, Iloilo – to be exact) for the reason that the location had a good and stable cooperative of coconut producers called the FSCGAI or the Federation of Small Coconut Growers Association, Inc. The project is known to be The Coconut Fiber Production Project and has been expounding its marketability since its beginning.
The project is implemented in the Municipality of Tubungan, a 5th class municipality 42 kilometers, south of Iloilo City. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has identified coconut as one of the major products of Tubungan so it declared coconut as its “One Town One Product.” Since Tubungan has a total land area of 8,518 hectares of undulating or rolling hills and mountains, and can benefit from sea breeze from the municipalities of Tigbauan, Guimbal and Miag-ao, 550 ha. is embedded to coconut trees, 83 % of which are fruit bearing. According to Philippine Coconut Authority, coconuts in Districts I & II of Iloilo bears 42 nuts annually or approximately 456,000 nuts are harvested annually in Tubungan alone(2006 Tubungan profile & Philippine Coconut Authority, 2005 – 42 nuts/tree Districts 1 & 2) This means that there are enough raw materials for the coco fiber production in Tubungan and in adjacent municipalities of Leon, Tigbauan, Guimbal and Miag-ao, inasmuch as these municipalities have similar geographic attributes conducive to coconut production. Despite the abundance of natural resources, agricultural and manpower potential of Tubunganons, majority of its households have incomes which fall below the poverty line of P 8,254.00 for Region VI (Profile of Tubungan). Thus, the choice of Tubungan for the project.
West Visayas State University (WVSU) has been operating in Tubungan as its development partner since l988 to present. WVSU packaged the coco fiber project proposal, sold it to funding institutions and implement the project with the Tubungan Small Coconut Growers Association which later was institutionalized into a Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TSCG-MOC) with 72 members.
The said project is actually in consonance with the two millennium goals, which are poverty alleviation as it gives raw opportunities to the locals of Sitio Durog, Brgy. Lanag Sur, Tubungan, Iloilo and environmental sustainability as it reaps the plausible environmental dangers cause by the abundance of negligence of coconut husk wastes. Even the United Nations Development Program has identified coco fiber as a promising commodity, and that the Philippines has a modest advantage in the global market because the country’s contribution of 1/3 or 23% of the total world coconut production just a few steps next to Indonesia and India, based on the June 2005 Reader’s Digest Publication.
Whoever knew that coconut husk could still be used to craft different kinds of materials that can be very useful in our daily lives, like soap dishes, a bathing scrub and even a bag?! Well, it just goes to show us all that it only takes creativity, a wild imagination and patience to make the smallest and most worthless of things into beautiful creations. The coconut fiber project of Tubungan, Iloilo is a very inspiring and innovative idea that has helped the locals of this area maximize their possible income and through this, they too have also made a greener environment for us all.
Information taken from West Visayas State University Extension and Development Centre Office