When twining is more than just for a living
By Bennie A. Recebido SORSOGON CITY --- Coco coir processing has been one of the primary means of livelihood for residents of Gubat town in the province of Sorsogon. Every day, “Aling Julie” would go to Gubat Agritech Industries Co. (GAICO), to twine coco coir and sell to GAICO the finished product. GAICO has established the coco coir processing plant to generate employment among local farmers, utilize the available resources, provide value to waste materials, and contribute to the domestic and export demand for coco coir. “Aling Julie” (surnamed Lagajino, 42), could finish 50 to 150 hanks per day, earning P125.00 to P375.00 for her daily take home pay. This added up only to P3, 000 to P9,000 per month for the whole family. Working for about 6-8 hours per day in GAICO’s coco coir processing facility, she could no longer spend time to look after her children and do household chores. This made it hard for the family especially that her husband had also to work in the farm. Although the income could not suffice to the time and hard work invested, still she had to work to meet the family’s basic needs. But this was before the Shared Service Facility (SSF) Project was introduced by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI, in cooperation with “Orgullo Kan Bicol” (OK Bicol) Association, Inc., identified 50 coco coir processor beneficiaries from across five cluster barangays in Gubat, Sorsogon, namely Jupi-Dita -- where majority of coco coir twiners come from), Payawin-Carriedo, Patag-Paco, Nato-San Ignacio and Bentuco-Tabi. Allotting P425, 000 for the project from the DTI-SSF Fund, there were 50 sets of semi-mechanized 2-ply twining machines purchased and entrusted to the beneficiaries. The project is aimed at enhancing production capacity, thereby increasing the income of the coco coir twiners in the target communities. Indeed, value-adding activities on coco coir twining now takes place in 50 households who are directly benefiting from the project. Not only the parents are doing the work, but also the children are taught to help in the coco coir twining when they come home after school. Thus, cooperation among family members resulted into increased production capacity from 50–150 hanks per day to 80–250 hanks per day. Consequently, it increased their income from P125.00–P375.00 per day to P200.00–P625.00 per day. This averages to P4,800–P15,000 monthly as compared to previous P3,000 to P9,000 per month when there were no twining machines yet. Likewise, the supply of twines has tripled according to their buyer, GAICO. With increased volume, meeting the growing demands for coco coir products has been assured by the locality, sustaining coco coir as major source of coco-based products in Sorsogon. This time, coco coir twine makers like Aling Julie can do their jobs while having spare time to take care of their children. “Malaking tulong sa amin ang mga makina, pwede kaming mag-twine kahit mag-isa at saka na bubuuin ang lubid pagdating ng aming mga partners galing sa trabaho sa bukid. Kaya naman inaalagaan namin ng husto ang mga makinang ito na parang mga anak namin,” (The twining machine is a big help to us; we can do the twining alone, which will later be made into abaca rope by our partners who come home after work in the farm. That’s why in return, we do take care of the machine like our children), “Aling Julie” affirmed, during one of the SSF monitoring activities. The SSF program implemented by the DTI has provided better technology to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through delivery of sophisticated equipment which enhances product marketability and efficiency, and in turn, generates more jobs and better income. What is more significant is that the project not only improved the livelihood of the beneficiaries but also saved precious time to be spent for their families. The twining machines have indeed proven to be more than just for a living.