By Edwin O. Fernandez
COTABATO CITY, (PNA) — Maguindanao and Villar Foundation of Senator Cynthia Villar have trained 35 Muslim women from different towns in the province to convert wastes into money making ventures.
Maguindanao is “very rich” in water hyacinths along various tributaries and major rivers in mainland Mindanao which is now called “green gold.”
The prospective entrepreneurs, mostly from communities in Maguindanao, were Muslim rebels who have underwent extensive training on water hyacinth handicrafts under the Provincial Water Hyacinth Development Program (PWHDP) from October 14 to 18.
According to Lea Sagan, PWDP head, the training was jointly organized by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and the Villar Foundation.
Complementing the joint project was the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology, two major line agencies of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In a statement, Mangudadatu said the joint project was in support to Malacañang’s efforts and the MILF to provide socio-economic empowerment to Muslim women while negotiations to end decades of armed conflict in Maguindanao was in progress.
Water hyacinths (Eichhornia Crassipes) are so abundant in swamps and rivers in Maguindanao that connect to the Liguasan Marshland.
Mangudadatu lauded the Villar Foundation for providing manual water hyacinth stalk flatteners to the participants hoping one day they will become major producers of hyacinth products in local and international market.
Mangudadatu said his office is now working to establish a direct connection between local producers of water hyacinth products, such as bags, decors and ornaments, with international market.
“We do not only provide these women with source of livelihood, we also help them find market for their products here and abroad,” Mangudadatu said in a statement.