Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the rehabilitation of the Philippine coconut industry is necessary to maintain the country’s position as the second top producer of coconut oil after Indonesia.
Angara, who was Agriculture Secretary, stressed the value of the Philippines’ top agricultural produce.
“Now more than ever, we need to continue replanting good varieties of coconut. Looking at our neighboring countries Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, it seems that we will lag behind in less than a decade,” he stressed during the recent joint public hearing of the Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Committees on Trade and Finance.
“The P682 million budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) was not enough for a serious replanting program. Of this amount, some P220 million will be spent to plant 4.4 million trees,” he said citing PCA
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Philippines is the world's eighth largest producer of coconuts, producing 1.246 million tons in 2009.
Angara also noted that infrastructure like bridges, farm to market roads, coco processing complex and small water impounding facilities can increase production, as well as lessen the cost of transportation and agricultural losses due to mishandling.
To further develop the industry, Angara filed a measure seeking to create a Philippine Coconut Industry Development Authority (PHILCIDA), which will reenergize the PCA.
Known as the Coconut Industry Development Act, the bill proposes the creation of PHILCIDA as a policy-making body that will focus on boosting coconut production, product development, and bringing coconut products to more markets.
"We need to revive this dying industry," pressed Angara. "The government must make the necessary investment to boost coconut production, protect the income of our farmers, and develop a roadmap for the sustainability of the industry."
Once passed into law, the PHILCIDA will get access to a P1-billion Coconut Development Fund sourced from the national budget.