Makapuno seen to boost eco-tourism in Alabat, Quezon province

Toronto, Ontario — Wonderful things happen when people work together.

Such is the essence of the project called the Makapuno Industry Agri-Business and Investment Promotion, which is the result of a collaboration of multiple Philippine government agencies.

The project aims to invite overseas investors, especially in Canada, to fund the plantation of Makapuno trees on 111 hectares of land in Alabat Island, Province of Quezon, Philippines.

Macapuno used to be rare and expensive, despite being valued as a traditional delicacy. The steep cost of P300 per Makapuno seedling was not sustainable.

But, thanks to the Makapuno embryo culture technology developed by the late Dr. Emerita V. de Guzman, a Filipina plant physiologist, of UP Los Baños in the 1960s. By extracting (“rescuing”) the embryo inside Macapuno seeds and culturing them in vitro, she was able to increase Macapuno yields per palm to 75 to 100%.

This technology was later improved in the 1990s by the Albay Research Center of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA-ARC) headed by the Filipina biotechnologist Erlinda P. Rillo.

Macapuno “coconut sport,” which is technically the very soft endosperm of a coconut that does not develop normally like regular coconut endosperm. The endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants during fertilization, at which time it surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, although it can also contain oils and protein, making it a good source of nutrition for humans; it has the same nutrients as regular coconuts. This unusual development results in a coconut fruit whose shell is packed with gelatinous coconut meat with little or no liquid. [Photo from marketmanila.com.]

The unique breed gives a chance to develop Maca­puno with the thick, tender and gelatinous meat from coconut– for the local and international markets.

The project envisions to launch on a 111-hectare Makapuno plantation that would address poverty on the island by giving farmers an additional income source, while significantly contributing to the island’s economy.

Besides working on Alabat Island’s brand as Makapuno Island, the government is also looking into the production of coco sugar and integrated farming.

Maria Roseni M. Alvero, Senior Trade Commissioner and Phil. Consulate General of DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps (DTI-FTSC) of Toronto, Canada presented the business plan of making Makapuno Island a model investment project in which overseas Filipinos could invest in Filipino businesses.

Alvero’s proposed project, entitled “Transforming Overseas Filipinos (OFs) into Overseas Filipino Investors (OFIs): The Philippine Makapuno Industry and Agribusiness Investment Promotion Program in Alabat Island, Quezon” aims to launch a well-coordinated, harmonized, and sufficiently funded export and investment campaign targeting the Filipinos living abroad. 

A donation of $4,000.00 raised by the Phil­ippine Chamber of Commerce in Toronto, Canada (PCCT), helmed by Steve Pagao, was deposited through Land Bank of the Philippines on March 19, 2019. PCCT vows to sustain the progress and the continuous improvement of the farmers’ lives in the Island of Alabat.

A pledge of support and commitment was also signed by national and local govern­ment officials and agencies like the:

  1. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),
  2. Department of Science and Technology (DOST),
  3. Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of Agriculture (DA),
  4. Philippine Coconut Research and Development Foundation (PCRDF),
  5. Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
  6. Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP),
  7. Office of the Provincial Agricul­turist-(PLGU-OPA),
  8. Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) and the head of Makapuno Growers Association.

The National Ir­rigation Administration (NIA) IV-A has also started installing a solar-powered water pump worth P5 million for the irrigation of the Makapuno Farms.

The project envisions the Macapuno is a high-value crop and viable export product that will boost the island’s economy and benefit communities through es­tablishing a Philippine Maka­puno brand.

For more information on investment opportunities, please call PCCT @ 647-333-4829