Secretary Francis N. Pangilinan of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) projected a big leap in the country's market demand for coconut geotextiles or coconets and other coco coir based projects after the OPAFSAM, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to expand the use of bio-engineering in the construction of roads, highways and irrigation systems.

 The MOA was signed recently during the NIA Board Meeting by Secretary Pangilinan for OPAFSAM, Secretary Rogelio L. Singson for DPWH, Administrator Florencio F. Padernal for NIA, and Administrator Romulo N. Arancon, Jr., for the PCA. "This agreement will spur the development of the local coco coir industry by providing it readily accessible markets" Pangilinan explained.

Who would have thought that the "bunot" (coco husk / coco coir), a by-product of the coconut tree, has a far more useful thing than shining floors? OPAFSAM, DPWH, NIA and PCA recently sign an agreement to maximize the use of coconut coir-based products such as coconets and coir logs as bio-engineering materials for soil erosion control and slope stabilization. Present during the MOA signing are (from left) OPAFSAM Sec. Francis N. Pangilinan, NIA Administrator Florencio F. Padernal, PCA Administrator Romulo N. Arancon, Jr. and DPWH Sec. Rogelio L. Singson.

Secretary Singson bared that the program of DPWH to switch from concrete to coco coir products in projects involving slope stabilization, soil conditioning, soil erosion prevention and hydroseeding pursuant to Department Order No. 41 which he issued has already generated sizable savings for the government. He shared that the around P2 billion worth of coco coir bioengineering products used by DPWH could have cost P6 billion in traditional methods.

NIA Administrator Padernal, for his part, declared that NIA has also already issued a Memorandum Circular adopting and directing the use of coco coir bio-engineering products in the construction of irrigation systems.

TEAM WORK. Together as one, OPAFSAM, NIA, PCA and DPWH push for a certain goal not only on environment conservation and better farm practices, but also on increasing coconut farmers' income. The recent MOA signing among the said agencies provides a big opportunity for the coconut coir industry as coco coir emerged as an important coconut by-product to offset the effects of devastating climate changes, especially as an erosion control material.

Under the MOA, the OPAFSAM through the leadership of Sec. Francis N. Pangilinan will facilitate the convergence and integration of initiatives and efforts of PCA, NIA and DPWH in promoting the use of coco coir products. The DPWH and NIA will expand their current program, share their expertise, provide information on their demand for coco coir products, and allow documentation of its construction sites for promotional campaign. The PCA will inform coco coir producers on the demand from DPWH and NIA, link producers and users, and document and promote bio-engineering.

PCA Administrator Arancon expressed his gratitude for the agreement highlighting that the adoption and expansion by DPWH and NIA on the use of coco coir bio-engineering solutions will be a great contribution not only in protecting the environment but also in increasing coconut farmers' income and in providing more jobs in the rural areas.