DA taps US firm to develop coconut hollow blocks, roofs

November 13, 2018
Coconut hollow blocks
Coconut hollow blocks

COCONUT fibers and processed dirty plastics can be converted to housing materials like hollow blocks and roofs.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the processing of these products will soon be realized after an American engineering company has offered to establish in the Philippines a manufacturing facility which would produce in commercial quantities housing materials like hollow blocks and roofs using the said products as binders.

Piñol said James Wheeler and Kirk Johnson, owners of Buskirk Engineering of Indiana, a U.S. company which produces outstanding feed mills, bio-mass facilities and dirty plastics processing equipment, are now in the country to start the projects.

He explained that the projects they will develop are supported by the DA through its agencies Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFida), the Philippine Carabao Center, and the Department of Science and Technology.

Piñol said the two Americans informed him that the hollow blocks and roof-making facility could give value to the coconut husks which are just being thrown away or burnt.

They said the project will also help solve the country’s problems with dirty plastics, thus producing an environment-friendly material for housing construction.

The country is the third biggest contributor of dirty plastics thrown into rivers, lakes and seas, after China and Indonesia.

The Coconut Industry, on the other hand, produces over five billion husks every year, half of which are just burned or thrown away, while the other half was processed into coco coir and other products using coconut fiber.

The older Johnson, who co-owns Buskirk with Wheeler, said the Eco-Roofs and Eco-Blocks from coconut fiber using dirty plastics as binders would be lighter and pliant, adding that these materials are ideal for earthquake-prone areas.

Piñol disclosed that the coco-blocks and coco-roofings were actually developed by engineering researchers of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in San Ramon Coconut Research Center in Zamboanga City.

Among other products to be developed are the volume production of disinfected coco peat and coco coir, eco-nets, hardboards using coconut shells, coconut water, coco milk, coco syrup, coco sugar, coco chips and virgin coconut oil.

The PCA has allocated P200 million for the establishment of facilities to be owned and operated by coconut farmers to produce the high value coconut products.