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Export potential of coconut husk.

From the earliest times of recorded history, people depended on the coconut tree to satisfy many of their needs. An endless list of products and by-products can be made out of the different parts of the coconut tree from the leaves down to its roots. No wonder, the coconut tree is known as the tree of life - a wonderful gift of God to man. In Filipino, coconut is known as niyog; in French, cocotler; in Spanish, cocotero; in Italian, cocco; and in German, kokospalme. And to the sea-loving Arabs of olden times, coconut is called the Indian Nut. It was the Spaniard who called the three-eyed nut as coco which is an old Spanish slang that means monkey face. The Spaniards coined the word coco because the three eyes looked like the two eyes and nose of a monkey.

One part of the coconut that I would like to talk about is the husk that is usually thrown away by many who do not know that there is gold in the coconut husk.

What, one may ask, is the gold in coconut husk? Coconut husks are the external shells of coconut. While the husks are not used as food, there is a natural fiber known as coir extracted from the husk of coconut. The coir fibers are found between the hard internal shell and outer coat of a coconut. The husk contains about 30% fiber and 70% coir dust sometimes called coco peat or pith with biodegradable properties.

Coconut coir has multiple applications. It is used for upholstery cushion, car seat stuffing, mat, carpet, rope and cordage, fishing net, flooring material, filtration pads, insulation materials - and lately as geotextiles or erosion control nets.

Let me share with you some interesting information about coco coir and coco dust:

*Do know that the Word "coir" comes from the Malayalam word "kayar."

*Do you know that in horticulture, coir is a substitute for sphagnum moss because it is free of bacteria and fungal spores;

*Do you know that coir is a growing agent in intensive glasshouse (greenhouse) horticulture;

*Do you know that coco pith is a soil treatment and a hydroponic growth medium;

*Do you know that as early as the 11th century A.D., Arab writers already referred to the extensive use of coir for ship ropes and rigging confirming the belief that ropes and cordage have been in use from ancient times;

*Do you know that the total world coir production is 250,000 long tons (or 280,000 short tons);

*Do you know that over 50% of the coir fiber produced worldwide is consumed by the countries of origin, mainly India;

*Do you know that India and Sri Lanka alone produce 90% of the coir produce every year;

*Do you know that the car seat stuffing of Mercedes Benz is made of coco coir imported from India. Coco coir is a high-end car seat material compared to foam;

*Do you know that the Philippines has more than three (3) million hectares of coconut (compared to India's 2 million hectares) and that three hundred (300) million coconut trees are planted in sixty (60) of seventy-nine (79) provinces. Annually, we get 1.5 billion husks from our three hundred (300) million coconut trees planted in the different provinces. This figure is based on the estimate that 100 trees are planted per hectare - compared to Indonesia's 350,000 million trees and India's 300,000 million trees;

*Do you know that the Philippines produces five (5) million tons annually of coconut husk;

*Do you know that the coir exports of India is about 500,000 tons compared to the 20,000 tons coir export of the Philippines;

*Do you know that both the Philippines and India produce about 1.5 billion husks annually. India harvests this quantity with an area of only two (2) million hectares while the Philippines harvest the same quantity of husks in a bigger area totaling three (3) million hectares;

*Do you know that the world's biggest export of coconut coir is in Europe and North America compared to the main market of Philippine coir exporter which is China;

*Do you know that a single kilogram of coir pith/coco peat/coir dust will expand (with the addition of water) to 15 liters of moist coco peat;

*Do you know that the biggest markets for coco coir and coir products are China and Korea? Other markets are Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Finally, there is a by-product of coconut coir fiber known as coco geotextile. Coco geotextile is made from coconut coir fiber twine woven into high strength mats. Coco geotextile which come in rolls is getting popular in shoreline stabilization because of their strength, ecological qualities and biodegradability. It is used as a soil erosion control device. The geotextile readily absorbs water. It also builds up soil fertility and unbelievably replenishes lost essential nutrient in the soil. Definitely a boom to ecology and environment preservation.

Many countries like Japan, Canada, United States, Australia, Germany, and China are using geotextiles - which also protects riverbank shoreline roads with steep slopes. Some provinces in China, for example, have a big common environmental problem. The sand of the ocean is eroding the soil. (To be continued)

Have a joyful day! (For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte's email: villafuerte_nelly@yahoo.com)

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Nelly Favis-Villafuerte
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Title Annotation:Columnists
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 2, 2018
Words:894
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