Who would have thought that a premium product such as coco sugar would come from such humble beginnings? The Linabu Agrarian Multipurpose Cooperative (LAMPCO) may now be exporting their coco sap products to countries around the world, but there was a time when they were just a small community of 140 members looking for ways to help support each other.

LAMPCO is an agrarian reform community enterprise based in Linabu, a barangay in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. They started out in 1997, as a microfinancing cooperative. But like many startup enterprises, their beginnings were beset by financial and management challenges. But if there is anything that they could have learned from their co-op members with disabilities, it’s that success comes not just by overcoming challenges but also by maximizing one’s strengths. For this Linabu community, the key was to literally tap the riches of their land—coconuts.

Coconut sugar is made from coconut toddy or sap, tapped from the cut flower buds of a coconut tree. The sap is then boiled until becomes coco syrup, which is further heated to crystallize into sugar. The reason why coco sugar is so popular among wellness advocates is because it has a very low glycemic index—the lowest, in fact, among sugars. The glycemic index is how fast glucose is released into the bloodstream, so this means that coconut sugar is highly recommended, especially for diabetics. It’s also 100% natural, chemical-free, and very high in potassium.

With a such a valuable local product waiting to be harvested, LAMPCO shifted their efforts into learning about harvesting and processing coco sugar. With assistance from the Department of Agriculture in constructing a coco sugar manufacturing facility, and productivity and marketing trainings from the Department of Trade and Industry, LAMPCO slowly and steadily created a sustainable enterprise to support its members and its community.

But to truly hold its own alongside the two other leading Balingasag coco sugar manufacturers, LAMPCO needed to up its game, particularly in terms of marketing and packaging. This is where the Department of Trade and Industry became instrumental, helping to elevate their products for export. DTI helped LAMPCO develop various labels and packaging options, ending up with a very appropriate eco-friendly stand-up pouch. Through participation in the International Food Expo in 2010, they were also able to connect with potential foreign buyers.

Today, LAMPCO is a leading manufacturer of coconut sugar, but its greatest success isn’t really in the numbers. It’s in the lives that this enterprise has uplifted. From local coconut farmers to its employees with disabilities, it is these individual lives and stories that truly make this coco sugar enterprise a sweet success.♦

Date of Release: 4 August 2020