PCA conducts workshop to improve quality of NorMin copra
by Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob
Cagayan de Oro City (25 September) -- To create public awareness on what the government has been doing to improve the quality of copra, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), region 10, will hold a one-day workshop on the subject on Sept. 28, this year at Pearlmont Inn, this city.
An approved activity of the European Union-Trade Related Technical Assistance (EU-TRTA) Programme, the activity dubbed "Workshop/Showcase on Quality Copra Produced Through Proper/Quality Processes," will be participated in by the stakeholders in the coconut industry and the consumers of coconut food and non-food products, Regional Manager Luis G. Cruz of PCA, region 10, said.
Topics of the seminar include those on Updating/Upgrading RP Coconut-Based Product Quality Standards to World Standards, Quality Standards of Coconut Products and By-Products, Understanding the Health Effects of Aflatoxin and the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) in the Body, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Proper Use of and Benefits of Indirect "Kukum" Dryer, among others.
Meanwhile, Cruz said increasing the confidence of EU in the quality and safety of our coconut exports and improving their access to EU-member countries are only some of the objectives of the TRTA to assists the Philippines in building an enabling economic environment that seeks to enhance the conditions for international trade and investment of our coconut products.
"Our country traditionally ships coconut meal and oil products to the US and Europe but their poor quality has threatened the markets for these products," Cruz said.
Particularly, the EU countries require that copra meals brought to them must not exceed the aflatoxin limit of 20 parts per billion (ppb) and crude coconut oil, the PAH limit not to exceed 25 ppb within it the benzo@pyrene (BaP) component not exceeding 5ppb.
These two (2) chemical compounds, which are carcinogenic and therefore health hazards, are acquired from using the traditional smoke (landahan) dryers and from poor and improper use of other drying methods or procedures in making copra like drying them under the direct heat of the sun.
When the crushing plants process this inferior quality copra, the aflatoxin is carried over in the copra meal, a by-product in oil extraction, while the PAH is carried over in the extracted crude coconut oil.
Cruz said the more reddish the copra, the more aflotoxin it has and that the problem of poor copra quality can be attributed primarily to the behavior of the farmers producing or making the copra, the attitude of the various stakeholders in the industry and the lack of funds to put up Kukum dryers, a technology pushed by TRTA.
He said these Kukum dryers which produce white copra has been identified to effectively control the growth of aflatoxin-causing molds and the contamination of PAH in copra when used in conjunction with the right processing technology. (PIA 10) [top]