Turning coconut waste into a viable source of livelihood and income for many communities is a “win-win for people and the environment,” Senator Cynthia Villar said Friday.
“There are two-fold benefits in turning waste coconut husks into something useful, we got rid of garbage that used to litter our streets and clog our rivers and waterways. Secondly, we helped residents by providing them with livelihood and additional source of income,” said Villar, head of both the Senate Committees on agriculture and the environment.
Villar SIPAG’s coconet-weaving enterprises convert waste coconut husks into coconets, which are used as riprap materials in construction projects to prevent soil erosion. Vista Land buys the coconets for its housing subdivisions.
Villar also said the coco peat or dusts extracted from the coconut husk fiber were mixed with household waste to make organic fertilizers. All the fertilizers produced are distributed all over the country and given free to farmers and urban gardeners.
Villar says these have become in demand during the pandemic when the popularity of growing one’s food and vegetable gardening dramatically increased.
She says people who are involved in making coconets and organic fertilizers have made it a viable source of income.
“One of my learnings as a social entrepreneur is that we really have to put an income component in our projects for them to be successful or sustainable. Otherwise, people will be hesitant or half-hearted to participate,” Villar said.
She says their coco waste project also demonstrates how technological innovation can improve people’s lives.
The coconet enterprise is also supporting farmers all over the country because they don’t have to buy fertilizer.
It also boosts organic agriculture in the country. Incidentally, November is “Organic Agriculture Month” by virtue of Proclamation 1030, which cites organic farming as an effective tool for development, environmental conservation and protection of the health of farmers, consumers, and the general public.
Villar is an active proponent of organic agriculture. The Villar-authored Organic Agriculture Bill was passed in the Senate on June 1. Senate Bill 1318 will introduce the Participatory Guarantee System, a more affordable and accessible certification system for organic products. It amends Republic Act 10068 as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 will provide the much-needed impetus to support the growth of organic agriculture in the country.
As an environmentalist and social entrepreneur, Villar is continuously searching for ways to provide livelihoods to Filipinos that also help protect the environment.