|Oleochemicals: A potential opportunity to Bicol's coconut industry|
|Written by Roi Santillan, Legazpitoday.com|
|Monday, 10 June 2013 08:50|
Legazpi City, Albay--The potential of cocochemicals, particularly on oleochemicals, was recently discoursed during a Round Table Discussion (RTD) by the National Academy of Science and Technology, a consultative organization of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The event, titled “RTD on the Philippine Coconut Industry’s Cocochemical Sector: Quo Vadis?” took place at the Hyatt Hotel Manila last May 28, 2013.
Cocochemicals are considered to have the highest-value products between coconut commodities and coconut-based oleochemicals. Consequently, the affair emphasized the potency of cocochemicals in lifting coconut industry from its slowdown.
The cocochemicals value chain involves “feedstock production, ingredient manufacturing, compounding and formulation, branding and packaging, logistics and distribution, retail or direct marketing.” Unfortunately, the Philippines is only limited to ingredient manufacturing.
Dean Lao Jr., the managing director of CHEMREZ Technologies and president of the Philippine Oleochemical Manufacturing Association, proposed that producers should undertake other aforementioned components of the value chain. By doing this, the coconut industry can be supported by the opportunities yielded by oleochemicals and promote the local cocochemical sector.
Although the Philippines was one of the first to produce oleochemicals in Asia, the situation has changed in recent years. According to Carlos B. Carpio, deputy administrator for research, development and extension branch of the Philippine Coconut Authority, “Malaysia and Indonesia are now two of the world’s biggest oleochemical producers with the most dedicated research and development (R&D) facilities.”
Due to the challenges encountered, various oleochemical plants in the Philippines, namely Cocohem, IPI, Lina Holdings and Pan-Century, have closed their businesses or shutdown. Aside from biodiesel producers, the only operational plants of oleochemical in the country are Pilipinas KAO and PIDI.
In Bicol region, around 447,743 hectares of the regions cultivated area are occupied by coconut plantations. According to the regional office of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), roughly 300,000 farmers depended on the crop, which adds 33.4 percent to the region’s gross domestic product.
Approximately 2.1 million Bicolanos, or almost 50 percent of the regional population, are directly or indirectly benefited from the coconut industry. Unfortunately, due to the destruction willed by the 2006 super typhoons, Bicol’s coconut industry endured heavy losses.
Optimistically, the opportunities that will generate from oleochemicals, with the initiative of the DOST, will collect Bicol region’s incurred losses and revitalize the Philippines’ coconut industry.