From leaves to trunk, the coconut tree proves its versatility as it is used to make various useful materials. From its leaves, one can make the “walis tingting,” a traditional Filipino broom; from its shell and husk comes the “bunot” made to buff floors; its trunk is used as building material; its fruit and juice are consumed as a popular street drink and is also used in cooking; and so much more uses.
The coastal town of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte has an abundance of coconut trees, thus the Del-Mar Shellcraft Multi-Purpose Cooperative takes this advantage to produce various products made of coconuts.
With training and equipment assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Del-Mar Coop is expanding by adding their locally produced virgin coconut oil to their list of product line which also include souvenirs, home décor, kitchenware, and even jewelry like earrings.
The coop head, Elizabeth Benemerito, shared that due to the closure of tourist attractions during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, their sales drastically decreased.
They sought the help of DTI and joined in the One Town One Product (OTOP) Next Gen program, a package assistance provided to capacitate Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The program gave the Del-Mar Coco Shellcraft Coop training in product development, product design, marketing including social media marketing, consultancy, branding, and their intellectual property rights.
By applying their newfound knowledge in this training, they were able to expand their clientele to not only tourists but also sell their products using social media which then increased their sales and exposure.
“Itong mga assistance na ito talaga ‘yong tumulong sa amin para makapag-survive noong pandemic kasi hindi na namin kinailangan na hintayin o umasa sa mga turista na makarating sa amin at nag-focus kami sa e-commerce at doon namin natutunan ang online payments na nagpadali ng aming mga transactions,” Benemerito said.
Through DTI, they were slowly recognized and exposed in various trade fairs and other events organized by government agencies.
Moreover, a production facility from the PCA is already in the works to increase the coop’s production of their new all-natural virgin coconut oil product.
“Dahil sa exposure namin with DTI, na-recognize ng DA and PCA ang aming efforts sa utilization ng coconut kaya kami ay tinuruan nilang gumawa ng virgin coconut oil,” Benemerito shared.
She added that they were also taught food sanitation, product labeling, product packaging to make their coop pass the standard of manufacturing practices.
Benemerito proudly highlighted that their virgin coconut oil product is also used for traditional massage done in Barangay Balaoi, Pagudpud.
The Del-Mar Virgin Coco Oil is also marketed for hair care, skin care, digestive care, and energy booster.
The Pagudpud-based coop is not stopping any time soon in developing new and unique products to add to their stores.
Recently they’ve added their banig-made product line of hats, bags, place mats, and storage boxes.
Benemerito shares that the assistance and support they continuously get from DTI and PCA is one of the reasons why they run the coop successfully.
“Napakaganda ng epekto ng mga tulong na nabigay sa amin, hindi lang para sa aming kooperatiba, kundi na rin sa aming mga sariling buhay. Tinuruan kami kung paano patakbuhin ang aming mga negosyo sustainably, dahil tinulungan kami ng business continuity planning. Ang mga capacity building at training binigyan kami ng confidence sa aming mga produkto,” she adds.
The coconut tree has proved to be of many use, and the women of Del-Mar Coop is a shining example of its good utilization. (JCR/AMB/EJFG, PIA Ilocos Norte)