Empowering coconut farmers towards sustainable enterprise development

  • By Pauline Gonzales
  • 1 October 2023, Sunday

CATANAUAN, QUEZON, Philippines—The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) organized a one-day training-workshop on organizational development for coconut farmer associations under the project, Development of the Coconut Industry Growth Areas in the Province of Quezon in Catanauan, Quezon on 26 September 2023. The event was co-organized with the Provincial Government of Quezon through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Region IV, with support from the Municipal Government of Catanauan through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMA).

Event participants who attended the training on organizational developmentEvent participants who attended the training on organizational development

The program, tailored to the specific needs of the province's coconut farmers, brought together 30 coconut farmer representatives and members from various associations focusing on buko juice, lambanog, virgin coconut oil, coco vinegar, and coco sugar. This initiative underscores the pivotal role of sustainable development and enterprise-building in ensuring the survival and prosperity of the coconut industry.

The training started with a prerecorded video message from Dr. Gerlie Tatlonghari, program head of SEARCA's Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD). She emphasized the need for unity and sustainability among the participants. Distinguished representatives from the local government of Quezon, represented by Ms. Ma. Leonellie Dimalaluan, assistant provincial agriculturist, Ms. Liwayway Pizarra, municipal agriculturist of Catanauan, and Mr. Bibiano Concibido, Jr, regional manager of the Philippine Coconut Authority's (PCA Region IV), echoed this sentiment, urging the group to collaborate as a cohesive federation.

This training course aims to enhance the appreciation of coconut farmers in collective action as a starting tool in building and developing an enterprise through a business model canvas. The program began by providing participants with an in-depth understanding of the Philippine Coconut Industry, shedding light on relevant legislation, including the Republic Act 11524, which establishes the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund.

SEARCA team and Quezon Province LGU representativesSEARCA team and Quezon Province LGU representatives

Furthermore, the program emphasizes that collective action, as a fundamental component in developing coconut enterprises, is important while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among farmers. It focuses on the core values and principles essential for establishing successful coconut enterprises and cooperatives, focusing on cooperation and shared objectives. This segment was facilitated by Ms. Adriann Quilloy, extension specialist, from the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development-University of the Philippines Los Baños (ICOPED-UPLB).

On the other hand, Ms. Jennica Amielle Mora, associate professor of the College of Economics and Management (CEM), UPLB, facilitated the discussion on the key elements of a business model canvas (BMC). This provides participants with a practical framework to construct their enterprises. The culmination of the training involves farmers working collaboratively to create an initial BMC tailored to their specific businesses, ensuring that the knowledge gained can be applied to their businesses. The program envisions to empower the participants with the skills and insights necessary for sustainable development within their federation.

Ms. Ana Clarissa Mariano, provincial agriculturist inspires coconut farmers with an uplifting message.Ms. Ana Clarissa Mariano, provincial agriculturist inspires coconut farmers with an uplifting message.The day concluded with insights from Ms. Ana Clarissa Mariano, provincial agriculturist of Quezon. In her message, she encouraged the participants to work together, be more efficient, and cooperate closely with each other. Her words resonated with the spirit of the event, highlighting the importance of unity and sustainability in the future of the coconut farmers.

Ms. Monina Jacobo delivers her closing remarks at the event.Ms. Monina Jacobo delivers her closing remarks at the event.Closing the program, Ms. Monina Jacobo, head of the Coconut Division at the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), expressed her enthusiasm about the future of coconut farmers. She commended their dedication and emphasized the importance of implementing the knowledge gained from the training into their practices.

This training program marked a crucial moment in the journey of coconut farmer associations, equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to transform their businesses into thriving, sustainable businesses. It is a significant step toward revitalizing the coconut industry in the province and ensuring a brighter and more prosperous future for all stakeholders.