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South Korean investment for $49-M coconut-based sweetener plant in RP brings good tidings to PCA Samar

Catbalogan City (June 2) -- The news about South Korean investment for $49-M coconut-based sweetener plant in RP brings good tidings to PCA Samar.

In an interview today with the Samar Provincial Coconut Development Officer (PCDO) Emi Acasio, he said that it is a good development and an alternative to copra where Eastern Visayans are used to.

In the last Palarong Pambansa held in Tacloban City in April, 2009, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) displayed coconut sap sugar believed to be good for diabetic patients.

Ms Rafaela Lacdao manning then the PCA booth, said that the sap is taken from coconut water used to make tuba. The liquid is boiled until it caramelizes and turns brown, the product is equivalent to the local 'kalamay'.

Base on further study, coco sugar is 100% natural and is produced from coconut sap or sweet toddy evaporation with no preservatives.

The sugar particles are powder soft and easily melts in the mouth.

Tests done by the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and Department of Science Technology (DOST) of the Philippines has revealed a low glycemic index (GI) of 35 making Coconut Sugar a healthy sweetener.

Coconut sap sugar is foreseen to create numerous livelihood opportunities in rural areas as the process involves a simple farm level technology, but it is labor-intensive due to the coconut sap harvesting activity.

The news that came today says that a South Korean food processing company committed itself to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to put up a coconut-based sweetener manufacturing plant in the Philippines .

CJ Corporation (CJC) led by its chairman Kyung Shik Sohn and its president and CEO Jinsoo Kim called on the President at the onset of the 20th ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit held at the Shilla Hotel to personally present to Mrs. Arroyo their "expansion" plan for the Philippines .

Press Undersecretary Lorelei Fajardo told reporters that CJC, whose $7.5-million animal feeds production plant in San Rafael , Bulacan has been operating since 1997, plan to put up their natural on coconut-based sweetener manufacturing plant in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

"The prospective employment generation of CJC's plant to manufacture its coconut-based brand Xylose sweetener will generate at least 1,000 jobs," Fajardo said.

She added that the President instructed Trade Secretary Peter Favila to ensure the "smooth operation of CJC's investment in the country."

"The President gave assurance that the Philippine government would extend all necessary assistance and support to ensure the smooth operation of CJC's investment in the country," Fajardo said.

The coconut industry is considered a major dollar-earner in the country that provides livelihood to a third of the country's population.

Of the 12 million hectares of farmlands in the country, one-fourth is devoted to coconut farms in 68 provinces.

The Philippines currently has a 59 percent share in the total coconut exports globally, and the industry contributes 1.14 percent to the gross national product every year.

In Samar province, although PCA knows the plant may not necessarily be in Eastern Visayas , still the office believes that massive production of coconut sugar could radiate to other provinces where coconut plays a vital role in its economic development.

To re invigorate the industry, PCA is currently undergoing fertilization program where municipalities are given salt fertilizers.

Just last week, Acasio committed 80 bags of salt fertilizers for the coconut farmers of Pinabacdao town.

Today, the 80 bags were collected from the PCA office at the capitol site. (NBQ-PIA-Samar) [top]

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