The more disadvantaged among coconut farmers are found in 30% (or 1 million ha) of our coconut lands located in mountainous areas. These farmers earned no more than $200 per year. Among them are the project’s beneficiaries living in the slopes of Mt. Banahaw of Quezon Province, Philippines. The project is being implemented by The Farming Systems and Soil Resources Institute, in partnership with other local and international organizations.
These upland coconut farmers are not reached by electricity. However they are blest with rivers and creeks and billions of coconut husks which they normally burn or leave to rot. This project uses the river currents to generate clean electricity that energizes a battery recharging facility. Batteries with light bulbs are distributed to provide lights to households scattered in the mountain. The lights upgraded their quality of living.
Since the beneficiaries of this project are poor farmers who have limited cash supply, the project developed an innovative paying scheme using alternative currency. The project trains the beneficiaries to process the coconut husks into fiber using appropriate equipment. The fibers they produced become alternative currency to pay battery recharging. The additional fibers that they produce are paid in cash. This new livelihood has the potential of tripling their income. The collected fibers are sold to contracted groups. Proceeds are used to replicate the project in other areas. This scheme ensures project sustainability.
The river powered battery charger has been installed, the batteries with light system has been distributed and the beneficiaries have been trained on coconut fiber processing. The fiber twinning and looming machines have also been distributed and installed and the beneficiaries are already producing coconut fiber nets. Expansion of the project to other beneficiaries are now being implemented.