THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Agri chief pushes for three measures for a more productive coconut sector

Author: DA Communications Group | 14 February 2020

Speaking at the opening program of the Coconut Bazaar 2020 held at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) compound, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar called for a ‘one whole nation approach’ in building up the local coconut industry.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA) chief, the approach which is one of the three measures he presented to the President and members of the Cabinet, should be adapted for both raw and value-added products.

He added that this will enable coco farmers to double their production and income. Data shows that Filipino coconut farmers produced 0.4% more last year at 14,779 metric tons (MT) compared to 2018’s level of 14,726MT.

However, due to the depressed prices of copra, output value declined by 21 percent, from ₱91.77 billion in 2018 to ₱72.07 billion in 2019. And so, Dar is banking on value-adding and processing to maximize the potential of the tree of life.

In his message, Dar called for the continuous improvement of the industry and the development of more quality products for the local and global markets.

To ensure high quality of products, DA, PCA, together with concerned agencies such as the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, and the Food and Drugs Administration developed the National Product Standards for virgin coconut oil, copra, desiccated coconut, raw nata de coco, coconut sap sugar, coconut flour, fresh tender buko and chilled young coconut water.

In addition, the Codes of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for Coconut was developed for coconut sap sugar and chilled young coconut water, as well as a national standard guide for non-food products including coco coir and coco peat.

Another measure that was approved is the increase in the percentage of coco methyl esther blend (CME) in biodiesel, to directly address the falling prices of copra, and result in billions of pesos in earnings and investments.

For the last measure, the Agri chief is pushing for the modernization and industrialization of the local coconut industry, in line with the “new thinking in agriculture principle” of DA.

During the event, Dar directed newly appointed Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr. to immediately execute interventions to address issues and concerns within the industry, particularly the low productivity in coconut farms.

These include the expansion of production areas and replacement of senile and unproductive and damaged coconut trees with high-yielding varieties – through the Accelerated Coconut Planting and Replanting through Coconut Hybridization Project; the enhancement of farmers’ access to quality planting materials through the Seed Farm Development Project; and the formation of cooperative business units or enterprises to enable a higher level of coconut processing plants.

Coconut Bazaar will be conducted bi-monthly until December. ### (DA-AFID)

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