Left photo) Brooke's Point Essentials main product, Virgin Coconut Oil, (Right photo), Brooke's Point Essentials VCO-Based Products including oil pull, herbal cream, herbal rub, sebo demacho, and ginger vaporizing rub
"With Brooke's Point Coco Product Producers Cooperative's success comes more opportunities for the Palaw'ans," BPCPPC President Daniel Sabuya mused.
Dubbed as the "Coconut Capital of Palawan," teeming 21, 073 hectares of coconut plantation and thus, their livelihood centers on exploiting this abundant supply.
However, due to the fluctuating prices of copra, other products that can be produced using coconuts is a welcome idea for Brooke's Point.
In 2012, LGU-Brooke's Point partnered with ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (AKLFI) to identify potential higher added value coconut-based products in lieu of copra to embark on a livelihood project for the indigenous people(IP) in Brgy. Ipilan, collectively called as Palaw'an. As a result, Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) was deemed the best alternative for copra.
The beneficiaries were then trained to be capacitated on the processing methods of VCO as well as VCO-based products including oil pull, herbal cream, herbal rub, sebo de macho, and ginger vaporizing rub.
In addition, they went through intensive trainings and workshops to foster entrepreneurial abilities and culture among them as a prerequisite to maintaining a cooperative and running a business.
Thereafter, they registered with the Cooperative Development Authority as Brooke's Point Coco Product Producers Cooperative (BPCPPC) in 2015 with 31 members actively taking on their respective roles.
Through ALKFI, the cooperative's products have been distributed to the partner companies in the Metro Manila and most notably to G Stuff, a health and wellness store created by the former ALKFI chairperson Gina Lopez out of a desire to protect the environment while underpinning sustainable livelihood in local communities.
Human Capability Upgrading Through DOST
In view of their products' exposure in the national limelight, BPCPPC, with the guidance of AKLFI, sought the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) to prepare them for the then upcoming Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) accreditation.
DOST-MIMAROPA provided the BPCPPC a three-day (3-Day) In-House Training on Good Manufacturing Practices.
Twenty-four (24) participants from the cooperative were on hand to imbibe the lessons on manufacturing practices that are in accordance with the acceptable standards of food processing.
Aside from basic food handling principles, the training also included Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) in which extensive discussions for proper sanitation of the operating staffs were provided.
Also, to intensify their understanding on the possible hazards for each procedure in the processing of their products, BPCPPC also received a Training on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) from DOST-MIMAROPA. As part of the training, a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) audit was also conducted to further improve their operations.
Through the said training, the process holders became more cognizant of their crucial roles in the production.
In an effort to bring their products more on a par with the established brands in the country, they went through the DOST's Manufacturing Productivity Extension Program (MPEX) to increase their productivity through enhancement of their production processes.
With DOST's guidance, they were able to come up with an apt design for their building and a process flow for their production.
BPCPPC likewise availed the DOST's Consultancy for Agricultural and Manufacturing Productivity Improvement (CAMPI), a series of consultancy services to identify and install productivity improvement strategies, to attain higher productivity for ensuring a successful FDA accreditation.
On November 4, 2015, they finally received the much-awaited FDA certification, proving that they passed the standards and practices for food processing.
Further Technological Assistance
However, DOST-MIMAROPA's assistance did not end after their FDA-accreditation.
To further improve their product's acceptability as food and topical commodities, DOST-MIMAROPA recently provided the BPCPPC with Vacuum Evaporator to eliminate the nutty odor in their products that had usually caused some consumers to shun VCO, and a Filter Press for a more efficient purification process.
Said technologies are intended to extend the shelf life and improve the quality of the products.
Previously, their products only lasted for roughly eight (8) months, hence, through the aid of these developed technologies, they are expecting to manufacture products that can be stored longerdesirably up to one to two years.
After acquiring the aforesaid technologies, they are mulling over to request for bigger and more developed facilities particularly to expedite the fermentation process to boost their production output as their existing ones can only yield a limited quantity of fermented coconut milk in a day.
Aspirations For The Future
The cooperative made it a goal to establish their brand nationwide as the renowned producer of premium VCO and VCO-based products. Thus, they are now starting to distribute their products in retail packages in such shopping malls as Robinsons and SM, and in tourism establishments like Ai World Park and Resorts all over Palawan.
This in the hopes of employing more indigenous people in their community.According to BPCPPC President Daniel Sabuya, they will continue collaborating with the DOST-MIMAROPA for such propitious technological assistance and consultancies.
He shared that S&T Programs and Services have helped them in achieving substantial improvements in their production process as well as their products' quality.