SAMAR EXPORTS ANTI-EROSION COCO-COIR NETS

Catarman, Northern Samar, May 21, 2003 -- A Filipino-run firm in Catarman, 
Northern Samar, is into the manufacture and marketing of world-class soil 
erosion control nets, or geotextiles.

Pitad (Waray word for "a step forward") Foundation, Inc., composed of small 
barangay cooperatives and foundations, produce top-quality coco coir fiber 
twines as well as export-class coconut fiber-based handicrafts.

Coco coir, a durable fiber extracted from discarded coconut husks, is now 
widely used as basic material in making nets, rolls, and mats as protective 
covers for soils and slopes. It has become popular in the U.S. and 
countries in Southeast Asia. Coco coir is preferred over concrete bricks 
and peat moss because it is cheaper, renewable, and completely organic. It 
is also an excellent growing medium for landscape plants and grasses since 
the fiber has natural rooting hormones and good water-holding capacity.

Pitad executive director Samuel Galera disclosed to the media during the 
4th DOST National Technology Transfer Road Show that the coco coir 
production in the province started to flourish when the Department of 
Science and Technology (DOST) funded the purchase of one unit of coco husk 
decorticating machine and one unit fiber twinning machine in 1997 and 2001, 
respectively. DOST provided a total grant-in-aid of P435,000 to Pitad.

Pitad, one of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) assisted by 
DOST through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (setup) in 
technology transfer and product quality development, was established in 
1996 by local engineers with technical help of Technology Application and 
Promotion Institute (TAPI), an agency of DOST.

"With the technologies provided by DOST, the production capacity of our 
laborers has become more efficient. Now, we were able to increase the 
production of coco fiber twines from 200 kg to 300 kg a day," Galera said.

This production efficiency has escalated the firm's annual net income from 
P664,000 to P1.2 million.

To cope with the increasing market demand, Pitad has increased its number 
of hired laborers from 15 to 168. Majority of them are contracted for coco 
coir twines production while the others are engaged in making coco 
fiber-based handicrafts like bags, potholders, and woven plant containers 
from their homes.

To date, the firm is earning a net monthly income of P160,000 from coco 
coir production alone, wherein 60 percent of its production goes to 
indirect exporters of coco coir fiber. In April, the firm had an export 
earning of $14,000 from coco coir products. (S&T Media Service )

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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