SDG 1: No poverty, SDG 5: Gender equality, SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Coco Technologies Corporation (Coco Tech), a pioneer in the Philippine coconut fiber industry, has joined Business Call to Action (BctA) with a pledge to increase production of its innovative products derived from coconut husks by P150,000,000 while doubling the number of its subcontractor producer households to 2,500. The company has committed to commissioning 24,000 low cost mattresses, 50,000 sheets of low-cost fiber board and 24,000 bags of organic fertilizer each year by 2020.
Coconut is one of the most important crops in the Philippines: the country is the second largest coconut producer in the world. Yet Philippine upland coconut farmers are among the country’s poorest people. Few have secure tenure over the land on which they cultivate or receive any support from the government.
As the Dean of Bicol University’s College of Agriculture, Dr. Justino Arboleda wanted to understand why his province, Bicol, was the second poorest in the Philippines despite its rich abundance of coconut trees. Determined to remove his province from the list of the country’s poorest, Dr. Arboleda found a way to maximize the region’s most abundant resource. Without external funding, he took a huge risk, leaving his stable academic career to establish his own company, which pioneered the manufacture of coco fiber products for preventing soil erosion.
Coco Tech developed technologies and an inclusive business model focused around the production of coconut waste materials by independent subcontractors in impoverished farming communities. It established a central coconut fiber processing plant and trained poor farming households to make twine and weave nets in their homes. These nets are delivered to road construction and mining projects to prevent the erosion of soil.
The company has actively promoted its technology to both the private sector and the government. Now, 25 years after the company’s founding, coconut husk-derived erosion-control nets are required in government and private construction.
As part of its expansion plan, the company’s current initiative involves developing new coco-husk based products such as fiber boards for housing and coco-fiber mattresses. In addition, Coco Tech has begun to formulate an organic fertilizer that is effective and affordable for small-scale farmers to use over the long term.
Coco Tech is not only planning to increase production of its product line but has also opened up the technology to other companies and farm cooperatives by teaching and encouraging them to copy its inclusive business model.