The coconut sugar firm in Bansalan, Davao del Sur is a role model of the Department of Science and Technology’s flagship program on countryside development.
DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo commended the Lao Integrated Farms, Inc. based in Barangay Eman, Bansalan for bringing improvements into the rural area of the province, using appropriate technology innovations.
Farm owner and chief executive officer Benjamin Lao started ten years ago from a barren land in Brgy. Eman. The inventor and producer of the Donnabelle coconut sugar and syrup products made from coconut sap.
Lao recalled that he started developing the one-hectare coconut farm and introduced organic farming. Today, Donnabelle coco sugar and syrup products are exported to Australia, Germany and Japan.
The business has also expanded to other coco sugar-based products such as ginger tea, moringa, lemon grass and seasonings.
Lao said he had only seven workers prior to the DOST assistance. The company now has a workforce of 86 toddy suppliers and 35 regular employees.
He plans employing 50 additional workers when he expands the business to Japan by the last quarter of 2012.
Lao is a national awardee as Outstanding Farmer and Magsasakang Syentista. The provincial government also recognized Lao for his exceptional contribution not only in improving the agriculture sector, but also in uplifting agri-entrepreneurship through his invention and production of the coconut sugar/syrup.