It all started with a massive clean-up of the water lilies in the fish ponds and boating lagoon of the Lower Magat Eco - Tourism Park (LMETP) in Barangay San Luis in this town
Water lilies used to be a problem among the LMETP patrons and visitors. Now, the problem was turned into useful products by a women's group here.
Last week, members of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) exhibited slippers, shoulder bags, bayongs, sleeping mats and native huts made of water lilies inside this town's booth and indigenous hut in the recent 5-day Agro-Industrial Trade Fair.
The products sold for as low as P60 up to P150.
The RIC's slipper and shoulder bag making project started last year after the conduct of the livelihood skills training by the Provincial Cooperative Affairs Office (PCAO) to several women of Barangays San Pablo and Bugnay in this town.
The training, funded with P50,000, dealt on weaving skills using dried water lilies as raw materials. The participants were given hands-on training to make their own product, said Rupert Manuel, former PCAO employee.
In the training, capital assistance was also given to the participants amounting to P25,000 each for two livelihood associations.
Every month, RIC members scour the rivers of Barangays Bugnay, Butaw, and Escoting, and the LMETP in Barangay San Luis to gather their supply of water lilies.
In this way, our communal bodies of water are cleaned, causing smooth and regular flow of water which also supplies the irrigation systems for our farmers, Manuel said.
Municipal Agriculture Technologist Florentina Yarcia said that the abundance of water lilies in Diadi can serve as stable supply of raw materials for the high demand for the unique products made of water lilies.
Yarcia said that the water lily processing project of the RIC is now gaining economic returns for their families.
What we need is the improvement of our product's quality so that it can meet the international standards and the need to explore major markets and outlets outside the region, she said.
Yarcia added that they are now encouraging other RIC members to get involved in the project in order to produce a considerable volume of their products which will pave the way for their products to be accredited by the local government as one of the major One Town, One Product attractions in this town.
She said that the effort will also help them in promoting the trade in order to attract attention, support and assistance from other local and national agencies to boost their business venture.
Meanwhile, PCAO Provincial Chief Dr. Benjamin Dacquioag said in a press conference that they have provided livelihood training on water lily processing for the women sector last year to provide an alternative income among the upland villagers in Diadi town.
Dacquioag said that Diadi, a forest reserve area, has vast abundance of water lilies in rivers, creeks and waterfalls.
As the government is pursuing an aggressive advocacy and campaign on the use of indigenous and organic products in order to reduce the consumption and use of non-biodegradable products, the demand for water lilies as alternative raw materials can further invade the market, he added.
The products made out of water lilies have huge demand in the local and international market because of their uniqueness and conformity with environment protection and conservation. (Benjamin Moses M. Ebreo/PIA 2-Nueva Vizcaya)