by Sally R. Villasis
"Once considered waste, corn husks can now be turned into a valuable resource."
This is according to Prof. Eva S. Montero, Research and Development Associate Director of Northen Iloilo Polytechnic State College, Batad Campus. She is also the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center Manager. She served as resource person during the Training on Corn Husk Based Craft Making and Utilization.
The training was held to enhance the knowledge and develop skills of the participants on cornhusk craftsmanship using cornhusk as raw materials by the Agricultural Training Institute-Western Visayas. It was held at the ATI Training Hall, ASU Compound, Banga, Aklan recently.
Some 35 participants composed of agricultural extension workers, youth leaders and members of Rural Improvement Clubs from 10 municipalities in Aklan attended the three-day training.
The training focused on the importance of corn husk industry in the Philippines and hands-on demonstration on the mixing of dye; dyeing process; making flowers from corn husk like cabbage rose, tulip, poinsettia, baby’s breath, corsage, lei; and Christmas decors like corn husk wreath, and angels.
According to Prof. Montero, corn husk is usually considered a farm waste. In many parts of the country it is either simply left to rot in the farm or burned. Burning corn husk poses health and environmental hazards to people.
"To solve the problem on waste utilization after corn harvests, FITS Batad converted corn husk products into novelty items – an important strategy to help the farming community maximize the utilization of by-products which involves the corn growers and showcase the ingenuity of the Batad community," Prof. Montero pointed out.
Corn husk contains several layers of papery tissue that encloses the flower organs, and later the grain kernels. It has interesting surface structure and natural color. It can be patterned into desired shapes in its damp state. When dried its shapes and color are stable.
Today, corn husks can be used as material in making artificial flowers, wreath, lei, corsage, Christmas decors, twines, bags, and coasters. The husks are transformed into attractive decorations after dyeing with vibrant colors. The creative mind and skillful hands can make this material come to life.
A person only needs around P50 as working capital to produce 1,000 worth of products. This means instant livelihood to many people without big money involved. Just pick up the corn waste available, use their creativity to turn these into money. Cornhusk products are durable that may last for years. Many thinks of cornhusk production as laborious, but with proper training, imagination and ingenuity even children can earn a living from it.
The industry started as a leisure activity among the students during the Summer Job extended by the Local Government Unit of Batad and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in partnership with the Batad FITS Center.
To strengthen their camaraderie, cornhusk production is formally conceptualized with a "community service" two years ago with 15 student participants from NIPSC Batad Campus, Batad, Iloilo. With its success, the Creative Young Cornhusk Crafters Association was organized.
The Creative Young Cornhusk Crafters Association is an organization of poor but deserving and skilled students formed in January, 2009 under the Farmers’ FITS Center. a joint project of Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College-Batad Campus and LGU Batad.
Cornhusk crafters produce different items in bulk and being sold to local buyers which in turn sell them to both local and international buyers in USA, Japan, Germany, and some parts of Asia. /MP