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Coconut Processing Modules For Micro And Village Scale Enterprises

The coconut which is normally referred to as the “Tree of Life” has the highest economic value among the various palm trees if properly utilized. Every part can be utilized for man's use or converted into valuable products. However, despite the myriad of commercial products that have been developed from it, majority of coconut farmers in almost all coconut producing countries of the world are still poor and just producing the traditionally low value product, copra. Since 1990, government and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in the Philippines promoted and supported programs involving the establishment of village level coconut processing plants in response to the clamor to liberate the farmers from producing copra alone and to get higher value for his produce. But instead of getting additional income from the enterprise, farmer cooperatives found themselves saddled with capital loans due to non-viability of their operation. Micro and village scale enterprises in the Philippines with processing capacities of 5,000 nuts per day and below are characterized by batch type operation and the production of only one or two products. Under the said condition, overhead and production costs for a particular product is high due to under-utilized equipment, longer production cycle and non­ optimization of raw material use. Thus, profitability if not zero, is really very low To improve the viability in a micro and village scale coconut processing enterprises, the application of processing module concept is suggested. The module involves the production of three (3) or more related coconut products in one processing set-up considering either of the following three aspects, a) the maximization of raw material or further processing of generated by-products; b) maximization of time through proper production scheduling to get around the constraints of batch type processing or c) maximization of equipment utilization through the use of multi-functional equipment for greater flexibility in product processing; or d) a combination of two or all aspects whichever is more appropriate in a given market condition. Each of the three aspects are discussed with corresponding sample processing modules. In addition, a brief discussion of the factors that should be considered in designing the processing modules is included. To demonstrate the concept, cost comparison and profitability assessment of a single product and a three product module micro enterprises are presented. Selected pictures of equipment appropriate for micro and village scale enterprises are likewise included.

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