PRDP pushes pili elemi as another sunshine product in Bicol

December 8, 2015 7:52 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Dec. 7 (PNA) — Implementers of the Philippine Rural Development Project’s (PRDP) programs in Bicol are pushing on elemi as a product with high potential of bringing sunshine to the region’s pili industry.

Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here on Monday said a team from the Investment in Agri-Fishery Modernization Plan (I-PLAN) component of the project has discovered the potential of resin as another profitable product from pili trees, one of Bicol’s major agricultural crops.

The PRDP is a Php27.5-billion six-year rural development project which is funded through a loan from the World Bank amounting to Php20.56 billion and some Php7 billion counterparts from the Philippine government and participating local government units.

In six years — 2013-2019, the PRDP being implemented by the DA aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from the agriculture department’s services.

This year, the PRDP has approved undertakings for Bicol composed of seven infrastructure development sub-projects (SPs) with a total value of some Php895 million in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon; City of Legazpi and the municipalities of Virac in Catanduanes and Placer and Esperanza in Masbate.

Also approved were three agro-industrial enterprise development SPs such as the Php22.4-million Pineapple Trading and Processing Project for Camarines Norte; Camarines Sur’s Php7.7-million Coco Sap Sugar Manufacturing Enterprise and the Php24.8-million Abaca Fiber Processing and Trading Enterprise for Catanduanes.

According to the DA regional chief, these agro-industrial enterprises that belong to the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) component of the PRDP would benefit a total of 13,559 farmers, rural women, and cooperative members in their respective communities.

Elena de los Santos, the DA’s regional technical director for operations and extension and PRDP focal person, said these approved sub-projects emanated from proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015.

Last year, Bicol, which boasts of the largest agricultural area among the country’s 17 regions, was also awarded the largest share of farm support infrastructure projects under the PRDP’s Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component worth over Php600 million.

Despite this huge agricultural asset, however, the region is among the country’s poorest with its 34.1-percent poverty rate among households as listed in the latest estimate of the National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

In the same listing, Masbate, with its 44.2-percent poverty incidence, is ranked poorest among Bicol’s six provinces, followed by Albay, 36.1 percent; Camarines Sur, 33.5 percent; Sorsogon, 32.1 percent; Catanduanes, 27.1 percent; and Camarines Norte, 24.7 percent.

There is indeed a massive government intervention needed by Bicol for the development of its agriculture which is the biggest contributor to its local economy, De los Santos said.

The discovery of elemi as another potential money-maker for Bicol, Bragas said, came during a recent visit of the I-PLAN team to the Nature Wonders Enterprises plant in San Juan City, Metro Manila where natural skin care like bath soap, lip balm, lipstick and body oil are manufactured using pili resin.

Owned by the Save Our Soil Foundation based here, the manufacturing plant derives from the Bicol provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon its pili resin supply being bought from farmers at Php100 per kilo and sells finished products as much as Php1,150 each, according to Bragas.

Popular in the international market as Manila elemi, the resin extracted from the trunk of pili trees also enjoys a growing worldwide demand — largely coming from the perfumery industry that uses this substance as a fixative agent in the manufacture of most signature brands of perfume like Gucci, Dior Homme Sport for Men, Marc Jacobs Bang for Men, Donna Karan DKNY Women, Revlon Pink Happiness for Women, Ralph Lauren Extreme Polo for Men and dozens more.

Some industrial firms also use Manila elemi as a pharmaceutical component and as ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

France imports this pili product from the Philippines for its limonene content that is evident as a fragrance component in luxury perfumes while Germany uses it for pharmaceutical purposes.

The Manila Elemi Oil extracted from the resin — being one of the best and premium cosmetic grade, food grade and pharmaceutical grade oil in the world — is used by known cosmetic brands like Chanel Ultra Correction Lift as anti-ageing, skin rejuvenating and moisturizing agent.

The Philippines is listed by the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades as the sole source of the Manila elemi resin that the country exports in raw form and whose aromatic scent can be described as pale yellow liquid with fresh, lemony, peppery, balsam, green, woody, sweet and spicy odor, Bragas said.

Dr. Arsenio Ella, a scientist of the Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute who is helping the I-PLAN in the identification of traditional and industrial uses of pili elemi, its chemical composition, proper tapping procedure, and production and export potentials, said that based on the 2011 Philippine Forestry Statistics, Bicol produced 372,000 kilograms of pili elemi valued at US$ 977,000.

The annual costs and returns of tapping 36 pili trees for its resin show an increase in income amounting to Php38,000 per year, Ella said.

He advised that tapping pili resin using the proper or scientific techniques prolongs the life of the tree, boosts its resin production, provides additional income for tappers and helps the government’s forest conservation and climate change adaptation programs.

I-PLAN planning specialist Mary Ann Cuya said her pili elemi is only one of the countless opportunities her team has been discovering to increase Bicol farmers’ income which could be maximized through PRDP’s assistance in terms of infrastructure support, commodity investment planning and value-chain analysis, among others. (PNA)



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