Rising coco sugar exports sweet news to PH
MANILA, Philippines—Now comes the sweetener to the coconut industry: Coco sap sugar is now a P100-million industry in the global market, Sen. Cynthia Villar said on Thursday.
“This is good news,” Villar, chair of the agriculture and food committee, said of the growing popularity of the coco sap sugar in the international market.
After all, the Bureau of Agricultural Research and the Philippine Coconut Authority have been actively promoting coco sugar as an alternative sweetener to cane sugar, she said.
Because of its health benefits, coco sap sugar has been touted as a “wonder sugar.” It has a low glycemic index (GI) of 35 per serving, compared to GI 65 to GI 100 for cane-based sugar, she said. It’s ideal for diabetics.
GI measures how fast carbohydrates convert to glucose in the blood or how fast carbohydrate turns into sugar.
The sap is collected from unopened flowers and cooked into coconut sugar.
The Philippines began exporting coco sap sugar to the United States and Japan in 2007, and later made shipments to the Middle East, South Korea, Hong Kong, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, France and New Zealand.
Villar predicted a bright future for the coco sugar, and the emergence of coco sugar enterprises that would all redound to the benefit of coconut farmers, one of the most impoverished sectors in the country.
“Indeed, the coconut tree lives up to its famous title as ‘tree of life’ due to the many benefits we can get from it,” she said.
The people from the Bicol region and other parts of the country have created livelihood from coconut trees, the senator said.
Coconet, coco dust
In Las Piñas City, where she served as a district representative for nine years, Villar said they use coconut husks in the city’s coconet enterprise.
Coconut husks, considered wastes in marketplaces, are turned into coconet to replace cement as riprap. Coconut is 80 percent cheaper than cement.
“We extract fiber and coco peat from the coco husks using the decorticating machine. The fiber is used for making coconet that controls erosion in sloping areas. Even the coconut dust is beneficial since they use it as raw material for mixing household wastes to make organic fertilizer,” she said.
A decorticating machine could extract fiber and dust from up to 8,000 coconut husks in a day. The fibers are then turned into twines by women workers often with the help of their children, the senator said.
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