Coco coir eyed vs soil erosion


MORE popularly known as ‘bunot’, coco coir which used to be a useless by-product of coconut tree is now gaining attention from the scientific community after research showed that it could be used as an effective tool against soil erosion.

No less than the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has certified that the coco fiber is useful erosion tool and that it is compliant with the provisions of Mining Act.

Because of the coir’s potential, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on the use of geonets, a term used for the product derived from coco coir, for its use in all infrastructure projects of the two agencies.

“Our coir technical working group composed of representatives from the  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) will meet with the mining sector on  Memorandum Circular 25,” said Luz Brenda P. Balibrea, trade information and relations chief of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

Geotextile, the end product of coco coir is proven to be effective in the rehabilitation of stream banks, and even in preventing or minimizing siltation in rivers and water bodies and in protecting mangrove areas.

In line with this, some mining companies such as Taganito Mining Corp. and Nickel Asia Corp. have already adopted use of coconut coir in protecting the environment such as for slope stabilization in mine tailings pond.

Greenstone, an Atlas Mining operation in Cebu, another mine in Masbate run by Filminera and PGMP are also among other users.

“With the order of closure of mines by DENR Secretary (Gina) Lopez, there should be rehabilitation of mines, and it should be with the use of indigenous materials like coconut fiber.  That will be an expansion for new markets for coconut producers,” Balibrea said.


Work generated agreement

The coconut coir industry registered P176 million in sales in 2014. It has consistently grown from P42.5 million in 2011, P104 million in 2012, and P131.97 million in 2013.

It employs more than 5,000 people in 64 commercial-based processing facilities and 285 micro small and medium enterprises assisted by the government.

Also, the move is in line with efforts to boost domestic sales which currently stand at close to P200 million.

According to the National Coco Coir Industry Technical Working Group, the coconut coir industry has a potential to grow to P1.7 billion.

Coconut industry officials expect the mining sector’s use of geotextile to boost consumption of coconut products and create more jobs for poor Filipino coconut farmers in the countryside. 


Mining Act Compliant

Sec. 60 of the Philippine Mining Act directs mining companies to use “indigenous goods, services and technologies” in their mining operations.

It states specifically that “a contractor shall give preference to the use of local goods, services and scientific and technical resources in the mining operations, where the same or are of equivalent quality and are available on equivalent terms as their imported counterparts”.

Under Sec. 57 of the Mining Act, “a contractor (in mining) shall assist in the development of its mining community, the promotion of general welfare of its inhabitants, and the development of science and mining technology.”

Mining contractors are also required to have “environmental programs that shall be incorporated in the work program relative to mining operations and rehabilitation, regeneration, re-vegetation and reforestation of mineralized areas, aquaculture, watershed development and water conservation.

Regions 5 and 10 are the biggest producers of coconut coir in the country. (Mico Agustin)