By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the executive order (EO) approving the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) is a “welcome development” as it would result in the release of a P75-billion trust fund from coco levy assets to bankroll the development of the coconut industry, benefitting 3.5 million farmers, stressed Sen. Cynthia A. Villar.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CFITF) Act, authored by Villar, was signed into law on February 26, 2021, and became effective on March 13, 2021.
“This marked the fulfillment of President Duterte’s promise to return the coco levy funds to their true and rightful owners – the coconut farmers,” said Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee.
Under EO 172, President Duterte approved the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP), which was mandated to be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under RA 11524, aimed at boosting the competitiveness of coconut farmers in the country.
Villar said the Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer of coconuts next to Indonesia. Davao Region is still the top coconut producer contributing 14.4% to the country’s total production. Zamboanga Peninsula followed with 13.6% and then Northern Mindanao with 12.9%. By island group, Luzon produces 20%, Visayas 34%, and Mindanao 46% of our coconut output.
As of December 31, 2020, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) estimated the total coco levy cash assets at P113.88 billion, of which P76.4 billion in cash.
“We thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) for this legacy that he will leave to the Philippines’ coconut industry and the Filipino farmers and farm workers,” also said Villar.
Under EO 172, Duterte approved the CFIDP, which was mandated to be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under RA 1152.
Villar said it aims to boost the competitiveness of coconut farmers in the country. She noted that the issuance of this EO would help alleviate the lives of the country’s coconut farmers from the 68 coconut-producing provinces.
In signing the EO on June 2, the President acknowledged the significance of having a plan for the development of the coconut industry.
“There is a need to approve the CFIDP to increase overall productivity and income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty, and achieve the twin objectives of rehabilitating and modernizing the coconut industry to attain social equity,” read the EO.
The coconut industry, Villar emphasized, has a very high potential for growth through productivity enhancement, diversification, and industry value-addition. If managed well, she said, it can be instrumental in rural industrialization and job creation.
However, she said there are problems confronting the coconut industry and related that “among them are the unorganized supply chain, the vulnerability of coconut to world price fluctuations, low farm productivity, which roots from infestations of cocolisap, the aging of the current crop of coconut trees and poor nutrition, inadequate infrastructure support and poor farm to market roads.
EO 172 also provides that the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), along with other concerned government agencies, will implement the CFIDP.
The CFIDP should be in line with the provisions of Section 4 of RA 11524 and consider the distribution of the annual allocation from the Trust Fund, as follows:
(a) Development of hybrid coconut seed farms, and nurseries for planting and replanting, twenty percent (20%): to be implemented by the PCA fifteen percent (15%) and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) at five percent (5%) for research respectively;
(b) Training of farmers and their families, as listed in the coconut farmers registry, in farm schools, the training shall be on coconut production and processing technologies, value addition of coconut products, diversification and sustainable farming methods, including organic farming, financial literacy, and farm business schools programs, among others through the TESDA and the ATI, eight percent (8%), to be shared equally;
(c) Research, marketing, and promotion, five percent (5%), to be implemented by the Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development under the DTI;
(d) Crop Insurance, four percent (4%), to be implemented by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC);
(e) Farm improvements through diversification and/or intercropping with livestock, dairy, poultry, coffee, cacao production, ten percent (10%), to be implemented by the NDA, the Department of Agriculture’s High-Value Crops Development Program, and the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry, Native Animal Program to be shared equally;
(f) Shared facilities for processing, ten percent (10%), to be implemented by the PhilMech, the beneficiaries of which are coconut farmers cooperatives and LGUs for coconut farmer organizations. LGUs shall create local small farmers councils to provide mechanisms for consultation and participation;
(h) Credit programs through the DBP and LBP, ten percent (10%) to be shared equally;
(i) Infrastructure development, ten percent (10%), to be implemented by the DPWH, in identified coconut-producing LGUs. The DPWH shall give priority to the use of coconut coir or bio-engineering solutions in controlling soil erosion and slope stabilization in the construction of roads and in other applicable projects;
(j) Scholarship program for farmers and their families, eight percent (8%), to be implemented by the CHED; and
(k) Health and medical program for farmers and their families, ten percent (10%) thereby creating a special unit within the agency for the purpose. (ai/mtvn)