A livelihood cooperative specializing in water hyacinth products can expect more productivity after receiving a water hyacinth dryer developed by Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Product and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).
The Rizal-based Bangon Kababaihan Bagong Cainta (BKBC) cooperative acquired the dryer through “Shared Service Facility” project of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) - Region IV-A in a turnover ceremony held recently at the BKBC Livelihood Production Center.
“The local government of Cainta recognized the need to harvest the thick patches of water hyacinth in the Manggahan floodway that regularly cause severe flooding in their area,” said Ms. Grecelda A. Eusebio, Chief of FPRDI's Business Development and Intellectual Property Section.
“The collected plants are dried and processed into bags, wallets, home accents and other handicraft products by the women of BKBC,” Eusebio added.
The dryer shortens drying time of water hyacinth stalks from several days to only a few hours, thus lessening the risk of fungal attack. It enables small and medium enterprises to sustain and even increase production as the equipment makes drying possible even during the rainy season.
“Using the dryer, the cooperative can dry as much as 5,000 water hyacinth stalks a day. This is a welcome development since the BKBC supplies dried stalks to La Casa Décor, a company that exports water hyacinth wall coverings to 45 countries, including Canada and the United States,” explained Ms. Wency H. Carmelo of FPRDI’s Technology Innovation Division.
Among those present during the turnover were FPRDI Deputy Director Felix B. Tamolang, DTI Region IV-A Director Marilou Toledo, former Cainta Mayor Mon Ilagan, BKBC head Veronica Ilagan, and representatives from the Villar and Meralco Foundations.
DOST’s water hyacinth dryers have already benefitted several groups. Among them are the Taguig-based Kabuhayan ng Mamamayan Producers’ Cooperative in 2011, and the Pasig City Jail in 2012 for its livelihood program for inmates and locals.
Aside from developing the dryer and giving technical assistance to adopters, the DOST-FPRDI also conducts training courses on water hyacinth processing and treatment. Several groups of women and out-of-school youth, mostly from poor communities near Laguna Lake, have benefited from these courses.
From pest to pesos: Water hyacinths are woven into handicraft items by members of BKBC