SEARCA conducts training for coconut farmers

UNDERSCORING the pivotal role of sustainable development and enterprise-building in ensuring the survival and prosperity of the coconut industry, 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.

The event under the project "Development of the Coconut Industry Growth Areas in the Province of Quezon" in Catanauan, Quezon was held on September 26, 2023.

SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said 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) in Region 4 with support from the Catanauan municipal government through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist.

Tailored to the specific needs of the province's coconut farmers, Gregorio said the program brought together 30 coconut farmer representatives and members from various associations focusing on buko juice, lambanog, virgin coconut oil, coco vinegar and coco sugar.

In a pre-recorded video message during the start of the training, Dr. Gerlie Tatlonghari, SEARCA program head of the Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), emphasized the need for unity and sustainability among the participants.

This sentiment was echoed by representatives from the local government of Quezon represented by assistant provincial agriculturist Ma. Leonellie Dimalaluan, Catanauan municipal agriculturist Liwayway Pizarra and PCA Region 4 manager Bibiano Concibido Jr. urging the group to collaborate as a cohesive federation.

According to SEARCA, the training course aimed 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.

Participants were provided with an in-depth understanding of the Philippine coconut industry, shedding light on relevant legislation, including Republic Act 11524, which established the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund.

Adriann Quilloy, extension specialist from the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development-University of the Philippines Los Baños (ICOPED-UPLB), facilitated the discussion on the program's emphasis that collective action, as a fundamental component in developing coconut enterprises, is important while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among farmers.

Quilloy also led the discussion on the program's focus on core values and principles essential for establishing successful coconut enterprises and cooperatives, focusing on cooperation and shared objectives.

On the other hand, Jennica Amielle Mora, UPLB associate professor of the College of Economics and Management, facilitated the discussion on the key elements of a business model canvas (BMC) which provided participants with a practical framework to construct their enterprises.

According to SEARCA, the training culminated with the farmers working collaboratively to create an initial BMC tailored to their specific businesses, ensuring that the knowledge gained can be applied to their businesses and empowering them with the skills and insights necessary for sustainable development within their federation.

Ana Clarissa Mariano, Quezon province agriculturist, also encouraged the participants "to work together, be more efficient, and cooperate closely with each other" with her words resonating with the spirit of the event, highlighting the importance of unity and sustainability in the future of the coconut farmers.

Emphasizing the importance of implementing the knowledge gained from the training into their practices, Monina Jacobo, head of the Coconut Division at the OPA, also expressed her enthusiasm about the future of coconut farmers and commended their dedication.

Gregorio said the 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.

"This is a significant step toward revitalizing the coconut industry in the province and ensuring a brighter and more prosperous future for all stakeholders," he said.