Turning menace into gold

TESDA to train Cotabato folks on economic use of Waterlily

24 June 2011

Water hyacinths that have caused the clogging of a major river in Mindanao will soon be put to good use.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva is mobilizing the agency's resources to provide training to communities in converting the tons of green menace into various items.

The water-based plant can be used in making accessories, home decors, bags, slippers, shoes, placemats and other furnishings.

"The flooding in Cotabato that was caused by water lilies will give us opportunity to turn calamity into employment generating activities and livelihood program for our people.

We will turn the tons of green menace into green products," Villanueva said.

The training can provide livelihood opportunity especially to flood victims in the area who have been displaced from their homes, fields and workplace, according to the TESDA chief.

"They can apply for the free training and learn to make various useful items from water hyacinths that they can later on sell. This initiative will offer alternative livelihood for them," he said.

Villanueva directed TESDA's regional and provincial directors to immediately coordinate with the local partners for tapping qualified applicants who will be given free training on making the water hyacinths into accessories and home decorations.

TESDA's NCR-based accredited trainers will immediately be deployed to  Cotabato City to conduct the trainings.

"TESDA goes beyond the classroom setting and reaches out to the grassroots by conducting community-based trainings," Villanueva said.

TESDA has existing green skills training in its technical-vocational training institutes and in communities that teach people to go green by recycling waste materials and manufacture them into  useful  personal items and home furnishing.

During its recently concluded assessment and competency program, it featured some products of its graduates that were made from water lilies and old newspaper.

The water hyacinths can be dried and transformed into useful materials such as slippers, shoes, mats, bags and other home decorations and furnishing.

Villanueva said the tons of water lilies that would be removed from the river would give them huge volume of raw materials for these products.

Public works and military personnel are working round the clock to remove the water hyacinths that have spread to about 20 hectares in area around the river, clogging it, and causing flooding in the city.

President Benigno Aquino III, who surveyed the river earlier, has directed science and technology authorities to conduct a feasibility study on the possible uses of the hyacinths, such as an alternative energy source.

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