By Vishia Mae Dominic J. Tolcidas
OPA FITS Negros Occidental
“Not all that is sweet comes from sugarcane,” said sugar planter Rafael Monfort of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental after he discovered coco sugar and the wonders coming from coconut, the tree of life. For Monfort, making coco sugar out of fresh toddy adds to coconut’s many uses. coco sugar is not only sweet but even more nutritious than cane sugars.
According to Monfort, coco sugar holds a lot of promise to coconut farmers who plan to embark on an agri-business venture. Coco sugar serves as a healthy sweetener but also a low-calorie food product fit for health enthusiasts and diabetics because of its low glycemic index. It’s high time that coco sugar become the most important sweetener next to muscovado sugar. “What’s interesting is that coco sugar makes more money than muscovado,” Monfort added.
For his involvement in research and technology development particularly on organic farming, Monfort was named Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) of the Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center based at the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) in Negros Occidental.
To increase farm productivity and income, MS Monfort applies science-and-technology-based innovations and uses local, available and indigenous materials and farm wastes. Through eco-friendly and sustainable farming, Monfort achieves reduced production cost and good quality produce
Monfort belongs to the pool of volunteer experts composed of Ramon Peñalosa, Rolando Suarez, and Elmor Juanitas who were appointed by the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) in 2006.
In 2009, MS Monfort (seated left, in right photo) saw the other potentials of coconut along with his business partner, Lope Consing, also of Cadiz who happens to be the owner of Marfori Consing Farms in Mati, Davao Oriental.
Together they diversified the 200-hectare land planted to copra by setting aside two hectares of the farm for coco sugar. In February 2010, they produced their first coco sugar using old-fashioned and laborious cooking methods with the assistance of the Philippine Coconut Authority. Marfori also became the first farm to produce coco sugar in Davao Oriental. Marfori’s coco sugar under the Marfori and Glow labels are now on sale in Bacolod and specialty stores in Manila.
According to Monfort and Consing, as soon as they are granted permit by the Bureau of Food and Drugs, they will export to the United States and Europe where there is a distinct market for the commodity.