A multipurpose cooperative in Misamis Oriental has found success in producing and selling organic coconut sugar, a healthy alternative to refined sugar, that’s been increasingly consumed by people looking after their health.

The Linabu Agrarian Multipurpose Cooperative (LAMPCO), an agrarian reform community enterprise based in Linabu, a barangay in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, does not only produce coco sugar for local consumption, but also exports the product to other countries around the world.

The organization is producing several tons per month of coco sugar to respond to the increasing demand for healthy and organic sugar.

LAMPCO’s coco sugar product bears the certification of Iberica Ambicert, the Spain-based subsidiary of organic-products certifier Ecocert, as carbon-neutral and genuinely organic.

The Europe-based Ecocert is recognized worldwide, including by the US Food and Drugs Administration, for its credible identification of products as purely organic.

LAMPCO started out in 1997, as a microfinancing cooperative. It was composed of 140 members from the community who were looking for ways to help support each other. 

But like many startup enterprises, its beginnings were beset by financial and management challenges. Soon it overcame the initial challenges and saw the potential of coconuts, which is the main source of livelihood in the community. Many members of the cooperative were copra producers.

Its shift to coco sugar production was not an easy path for the cooperative. But with the help of government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the organization was able to convince its members on the potential of coconut sugar.

Coco sap is the main ingredient for coconut sugar. Community members and their families are the ones harvesting the sap from the coconut trees. The sap is harvested three times a day from the towering trees.  

To produce coconut sugar, the sap is boiled until it becomes coco syrup, which is further heated to crystallize into sugar. One reason why coco sugar is 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. Coconut sugar, with its low glycemic number, is highly recommended, especially for diabetics. It’s also 100-percent natural, chemical-free, and very high in potassium.

With coconut sugar as its main product, LAMPCO slowly and steadily created a sustainable enterprise to support its members and its community.

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, LAMPCO was also able to connect with potential foreign buyers.

Today, LAMPCO is a leading manufacturer of coconut sugar in the country. The enterprise has uplifted the lives of local coconut farmers and its employees with disabilities. The individual lives and stories of the people in the community truly make this coco sugar enterprise a sweet success.