Photo: coconut farmer going into his farm
MANILA -- As the government prepares to purge "fake" vinegar from the consumer market, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will begin the nationwide training of farmers and women`s groups on the production of natural vinegar, using agricultural products to fill the expected supply gap.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol, in his FB post on Wednesday, said the DA and the PCA will launch on May 28 the "Natural Vinegar Production Program" - with a one-day orientation-workshop - at the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Quezon City.
The orientation-workshop will include the status of the Philippine coconut industry and the government`s thrust to develop other high-value products from coconut; potentials of natural vinegar for household and industrial uses; processing and production of natural vinegar using coconut sap, coconut water, nipa sap, sugarcane juice, banana and other fruits.
It will also introduce the "Acetator" equipment developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which could process coconut water into vinegar in 16 hours; the DA-PCA program for the establishment of village-level processing facilities for household and industrial vinegar; and the DA-ACPC (Agricultural Credit Policy Council) Loaning Program for Agricultural Production to include production of household and industrial vinegar.
Regional orientation-workshops will be conducted after the launching in Quezon City.
Invited to attend the first orientation-workshop on natural vinegar production are experts in the field, as well as farmers and entrepreneurs who are already producing vinegar.
Among the leading companies is Green Life Coco Products based in Laguna, which is producing 20-metric tons of organic coco sap vinegar and 60-metric tons of coco water vinegar monthly.
Vinegar-making is a traditional source of income for many coconut farmers in the country but it has reportedly been ignored and neglected by the government in the past.
With the consumers now getting more health-conscious and opting for healthy food, Piñol said the production of natural and organic vinegar has a huge market potentialm provided that the production process, including the packaging, is improved with government assistance.
For coconut water alone, the country produces 15 billion matured nuts yearly, with farmers focused only on harvesting the coconut meat and throwing away the other parts of the nuts, including water.
Assuming that each nut contains one-fourth liter of coconut water, the volume of coconut water wasted is estimated at 3.5 billion liters, he noted.
One liter of vinegar is now sold at the market for PHP50 while fruit vinegar commands a higher price.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OIC Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo earlier issued a statement that its standards "consider vinegar a natural product that should have undergone the natural process of alcoholic or acetous fermentation of natural raw materials.”
“If the product contains artificial matter, such as synthetic acetic acid or cloudifying agent, it is considered adulterated," Domingo said.
He said the FDA is “coordinating with the PNRI (Philippine Nuclear Research Institute) for the submission of the results of the analysis, while continuously subjecting vinegar products for testing. Synthetic acetic acid may not be harmful per se, but products using such chemicals shall have their registration with the FDA revoked for misdeclaration.” (PNA)