BAAO, CAMARINES SUR – Considered as a better substitute for synthetic sugars, coconut sap sugar is gaining popularity in both local and international markets because of its low glycemic index.

Results of the value chain analysis for coconut sap sugar showed its potential in Camarines Sur because of the product’s definite market. Its proximity to Manila and competitive sap based pricing strategy also makes Camarines Sur a better source of coconut sap sugar than those from Mindanao.

The 141-square meter Camarines Sur Coconut Sap Sugar Processing Center, which is part of the P7.64 million-worth Camarines Sur Coco Sap Sugar Processing Enterprise, funded under the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) will soon start its operation to produce quality and healthy coconut sap sugar with an average production of 76.5 tons per year.

The Federation of Baao Women (FBW) Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC), the proponent group, will implement the subproject. According to Gemma Daguman, its general manager, the completion of the Camarines Sur Coconut Sap Sugar Processing Center will positively impact the quality of lives of coconut farmers and rural women in Baao, Camarines Sur.

“I am very happy kasi at last, three years na kaming naghintay ng project na ito. This time, maitu-turn over na sa amin na completed ang Coco Sap Processing Center project,” she said.

Currently, the cooperative has 180 members engaged in agricultural production and processing who receive various assistance and will be tapped for the enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject. The processing center will employ a Project Manager who will supervise the enterprise’s Operations and Administration Unit. A cashier and driver will likewise be hired on a monthly basis under the Administration Unit. Meanwhile, women members of the FBW MPC will be hired under the Operations Unit. They will be trained on the various processes of coconut sap sugar. FBW will organize three groups with 27 women members who will work in shifting schedule as direct labors.

“Mga housewives po sila sa ngayon pero mai-involve na po sila sa pag-process ng coco sap sugar. Magkakaroon na sila ng extra income and mapi-permanent na sila sa work nila na hindi na sa bahay lang sila gumagawa,” Daguman said.

Coco sap collectors and syrup processors are projected to have an additional monthly income worth P2,500.00 to P7,000.00. Also, FBW MPC members are expected to receive a dividend share worth P15,505.60 per year.

Prior to the completion of the Camarines Sur Coconut Sap Sugar Processing Center, the FBW conducted a dry run operation of the Camarines Sur Coco Sap Sugar Processing Enterprise using fuel stove.

“Ang laking tulong nito sa amin kasi hindi po namin kakayanin ang pagpapa-construct ng building. Very thankful po kami sa PRDP. Sa wakas meron na po kaming processing center na makakatulong sa mga farmers at sa mga gumagawa po ng coco sap sugar,” she added.

PRDP also trained the FBW Multi-Purpose Cooperative in business planning, marketing, and bookkeeping as well as packaging and labelling.

During the punchlist inspection conducted by the PRDP-Bicol infrastructure development (I-BUILD) team on October 29, 2018, Roads and Bridges Specialist Zosimo Ordas Jr., the   Camarines Sur Coconut Sap Sugar Processing Center is the first project of the said province to be completed ahead of schedule. Punchlist inspection is usually conducted when the project reaches the accomplishment of at least 95 percent to evaluate the accomplishment based on the plan and detailed engineering design.  (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)