Agri dep’t vows to transform, empower coco farmers

Author: DA-AFID | 27 August 2019

“We have to look at every opportunity to transform and to empower Filipino farmers,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said, adding that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will now treat agriculture as an industry by means of embracing and institutionalizing the value chain system.

The Secretary, in his message delivered during the 55th International Coconut Community Session and Ministerial Meeting held on August 26, 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Complex, stressed the need to build a strong foundation and to attain growth in all industries involved in agriculture.

Dar said the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) should learn from the lessons of other International Coconut Community (ICC) in transforming their respective coconut industries. As such, he ordered three major directives to the PCA board such as 1) introduction of intercropping and diversifying coconut cropping systems, and turning raw produce into value-added products; 2) massive replanting program by adapting a tissue culture process to produce seedlings and new coconut varieties that are high yielding; and 3) increasing its partnership with various stakeholders.

Dar said the agency should look into human capital development and enhance technology transfer from ICC members to improve competitiveness of the domestic coconut industry.

“Let’s redirect our process so that at the end of this session or even the next five years, we would see coconut farmers doubling their income and we would also like to see private sectors growing much further,” Dar said.

“One of the strategies we suggest, even if farmers were organized, cooperativized, and collectivized without the engagement of private sectors/investors, we cannot accelerate the development and growth of coconut industry,” Dar added.

PCA Administrator Gonzalo Duque said the agency will prioritize the expansion of coconut areas, market for coco products, opportunities for farmers, and contribution of coconut industry to economic growth. He said “now is the right time to compete and reclaim our throne in the industry.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Senator Cynthia Villar expressed support for the Secretary’s vision through filing various bills in the senate that will help the DA deliver its fullest service to the farmers and fisherfolk.

“If we were able to solve poverty among coconut farmers, we will also solve poverty in the Philippines,” Villar said.

She said the ministerial meeting will benefit not only the country but also other members to come up with recommendations and solutions on how to revive the coconut industry.

Villar said PCA should increase its research and development, particularly in the areas of processing raw coconut products. She also said farmers should be capacitated so that they will be able to sustain the technology transfer.

The ICC ministerial meeting aims to discuss the current challenges of the coconut industry and look for new emerging opportunities among members. It is composed of 19 member-countries, 2 observer countries, and 7 observer organizations. ### (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)

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