Roadmap to strengthen coconut industry

THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) presented yesterday their roadmap for 2018-2022 focusing on strengthening the coconut industry through addressing the challenges like low production in order to meet the global demand of coconut products.

In her report during the 3rd general assembly of the Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster, Inc. at Grand Men Seng Hotel, PCA-Davao Project Development Officer Juvy Alayon said that the PCA aims to increase the average annual production from 2.523 million metric tons copra by 2025 as well as the hectarage of bearing coconut trees from 3.4 to 4.4 million hectares for the next seven years.

Accordingly, Philippines is one of the top coconut producers worldwide, however, Alayon said that some farmers were discouraged to venture or continue in coconut farming because of the low income they get unlike other agricultural crops which led to the decline of its productivity.

Low productivity is also the result of circumstances like natural calamities particularly El Niño and typhoon which affects the agricultural products, conversion of farms to residential area, and shifting of farmers to other crops.

Thus, the PCA is committed to "increase the farm income to a level at least at par with existing poverty threshold, reckoned at an average of 2.1 hectares per farmer and increase annual foreign exchange earnings from $877 million to a minimum of $1 billion by 2025."

They have initiated interventions such as the rehabilitation through the fertilization and plant selected seednuts with option of obtaining high yields varieties and hybrids. In fact, in their Smallholder oil palm development project (SOPDP), in 2015 they have planted a total of 12,288 seedlings while 12,000 for 2016.

Under their new roadmap, Alayon said PCA will increase productivity & production, promote intercropping, value adding entrepreneurial activities, farm & product diversification and organize coco farmers preferably into cooperatives.

After that, if cooperatives were established, it would easily give the farmers access to direct credit to enhance their farming.

Senility of coconut trees, illegal cutting of coconut trees, imminent decline in number of coconut farmers and inadequate social benefits, over-capacity/under-utilization of oil mills, low copra price and prevalence of poor quality copra were also some of the matters they are battling right now.

With this roadmap, they will involve the farmers in the trading & processing sectors of the industry and product diversification, invest in Research & Development on medicinal & nutritional benefits from coconut products in coordination with the private sectors.

She added that marketing efforts will also be enhanced particularly for non-traditional high value products and prioritize establishment of mini oil mills in islands and remote rural areas to be operated by coco farmers’ cooperatives.