Iloilo farmers train on corn husk-based craft making
Corn farmers from Iloilo have found a way to convert their corn wastes into something useful and eventually make it as additional source of income apart from being compliant to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Through the guidance of Professor Eva S. Montero, director of the Research and Development Services and manager of the Farmer Information and Technology Service (FITS) center of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) Batad campus, some 30 farmers are now on board in the second phase of the “Skills Training on Corn Husk Based Craft Making and Utilization” facilitated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas.
“We are encouraging farmers to utilize the most out-of-the-corn wastes because usually these are being burned after harvest,” explained Montero in an interview during the start of the training, Wednesday.
She added that agricultural wastes after the harvest such as corn husk, stalk, flowers and almost every part of the corn can be utilized into something creative.
“If you are going to dye them into assorted colors, you can see that even if they are still raw materials they are already attractive to look at. How much more if they can be converted into something useful,” she said.
The second phase of the three-phased training was focused on corn husk dyeing procedure; product manipulation; and flower, angel dolls, garland and floral head wreath making.
Montero explained that the process of dyeing takes time. The challenge is also to make sure that the color would not get stained.
They also make use of mordant — a combination of salt and vinegar. The salt softens the husk and ensures that the color will stick while the vinegar will brighten the color.
After the dyeing and drying process they still have to flatten the husks manually to make the materials shiny.
“It takes only one’s ingenuity and creativity to convert them into something. I am very happy with this program of DA that taps farmers for this kind of training,” she said.
Meantime, she added that “market is not a problem.” She revealed that they would be making poinsettia flowers in response to orders for the Christmas season. The floral head wreath is recommended for use by flower girls instead of artificial flowers.
She disclosed that her corn husk garland made a good impression before delegates from World Bank during a climate change exit conference held in Manila, recently.
“They can’t hardly believe that from a totally zero waste value it was converted into something useful and attractive,” she said.
She was also able to prove that indeed there was a market for the product when she joined an event organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Cebu.
“I was so surprised when exporters started coming in,” she said.
Phase 1 of the skills training was focused on the basics. Phase 3 slated next month is more on intricate projects like bags and fruit tray, among others.
The participants were selected corn farmers from the town of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. “This is already a livelihood for them,” she added.
Montero hoped that in the future they could create an identity like General Santos, which was known for making dolls out of corn husk and North Cotabato and Ilocos for slippers.
Aside from rice crop, Western Visayas, particularly Iloilo is also into corn production. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) disclosed that in 2016 Iloilo has 25, 230 hectares planted with corn while the total production reached 89, 246 metric tons. (PNA)