PDRP-funded farmers’ enterprise in Bicol now sells nutritious coco water

February 15, 2016 11:34 pm 

By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 15 (PNA) — The nutritious, delicious, refreshing and thirst-quenching coconut water being produced by Bicolano farmers in a village level enterprise established mid-last year through a funding provided by the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) is now in the local market.

Labeled “Be Cool”, the product was launched and subjected to market survey at the 2016 Palarong Bicol (regional games) of the Department of Education held at the Metro Naga Sports Complex in Naga City last February 7-13.

At the sports complex, the DA Bicol regional office installed a booth and exhibit area where hundreds of coco water packs were distributed for free to students, athletes and visitors for the product testing and acceptance assessment.

As part of the assessment, comments were invited from the around 200 of those who got a taste of it and DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said during the closing day of the week-long sports competitions Saturday that the high rate of approval was heartwarming.

“Be Cool”, he said, is a natural, nutritious and affordable energy drink made from the water of mature coconuts processed at the Coco Water Processing Technology Pilot Testing and Business Incubation Facility at the DA Regional Technology Commercialization Center Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center Compound in Barangay San Agustin here.

The technology, according to Bragas, now converts to cash for coconut farmers — around 300,000 of them in Bicol — the coco water that they just throw away in the traditional process of copra making.

This undertaking called the Village Level Coconut Water Processing System (VLCWPS) is a component of the Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agricultural and Fisheries Productivity, under the PRDP, a foreign-funded initiative being implemented nationwide by the DA as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture.

It is implemented through a partnership, among others, with the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), an attached agency of the DA that spearheads efforts toward a globally competitive and sustainable agriculture sector through farm mechanization.

A study made by the Bicol regional office of the Department of Science and Technology based in Legazpi City revealed that nutrient analysis it conducted shows that “Be Cool” contains higher electrolytes like potassium and sodium which allow body cells to generate energy compared with commercial coco water and energy drinks.

As tested in the Palaro, according to Bragas, electrolytes in it work to restore body balance and keep hydration while playing a vital role in muscle contraction during rigorous activities to boost endurance, prevent muscle cramps and step up performance.

As established by laboratory studies, coconut water is probably the healthiest liquid that one can ever take in his entire life as it has much more than the health benefits that a commercially-produced thirst-quencher can give.

Weight-conscious people can drink coco juice as much as they can without worrying about ingesting a lot of fattening agents because it is very low in fat.

It can also help them feel full, thus, decreasing their cravings for excessive food.

It is also rich in a lot of nutrients that are required by diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels in control and it has more hydrating properties than the average tap water so drinking it can certainly help in digestion, thus, enabling better absorption of food nutrients.

Being rich in anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, coco water also help fight viruses that attack the body such as flu and herpes or help revitalize body cells and boost metabolism with its less sodium and more potassium content.

“Nutritious, natural and safe are the qualities of coconut water being produced out of this profitable undertaking that will establish village-level processing units capable of producing quality bottled drink which will later on be integrated into a bigger volume of production for export,” Bragas said.

Everything about it points to a bigger income for farmers, Capariño said, explaining that in the traditional process, coconut farmers earn Php5,000 for every 1,000 nuts sold as copra at Php25 per kilo.

On the other hand, by producing 1,000 bottles of coconut water out of 1,000 nuts, coconut farmers will double their income, he said.

Capariño cited that 2.4 billion liters per year of coconut water from matured coconuts are being wasted during copra processing, thus, the VLCWPS was conceptualized to add value to it by producing natural, nutritious, and safe coconut water.

The project, Bragas said, engages, for the meantime, coconut farmers in Bicol as raw material suppliers, then eventually as village-level coco water processing facility operators as soon as they are capacitated into the agricultural entrepreneurship venture.

The “Be Cool,” brand name and logo design has won the recent logo design contest for coco water beverage based on several brand preference tests conducted by the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture.

Bragas added that the project is now on its commercial production stage and the product has joined the local market. (PNA)

LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

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