Coconut farmers may finally benefit from the coconut levy funds, after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte ordered Wednesday night, June 15, the release of funds to them.
Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said Duterte gave the order during a meeting with his incoming Cabinet at the Philippine International Convention Center last Wednesday, June 15.
“Duterte directed incoming presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo to start the effort to ensure that the coconut levy funds are released to the country’s farmers,” Pinol said in a post on his social media account Thursday morning, June 16.
“I am directing Atty. Panelo to look into this matter and make sure that the coconut levy funds are released to the farmers,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
He also quoted Duterte as saying the coco levy funds constitute an “emotional issue for the coconut farmers,” including Duterte’s late mother.
“The coconut levy funds should be given to the farmers,” Pinol quoted Duterte as telling the incoming Cabinet members.
Pinol said Duterte’s directive was in response to his request for a policy statement on the coconut levy funds. Pinol said he had been receiving many questions on the issue.
“With the expected release of the coconut levy funds to the real owners and the start of the massive national coconut planting program, the coconut industry is expected to regain its reputation as one of the country’s biggest foreign exchange earners for the country,” Pinol said.
* 6-year coco planting
Pinol also said he had talked to officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for a six-year coconut planting program to cover 600,000 hectares.
He said PCA officials assured him they can produce planting materials to cover the 600,000 hectares of new coconut areas in the country.
Pinol drafted a project proposal for the massive coconut replanting dubbed COPRA (Coconut Productivity and Rehabilitation Agenda).
This aims to retain the Philippines’ status as the No. 1 coconut producer in the world, he said.
Pinol said farmers will have access to coconut seedlings, including fertilisers and irrigation equipment, on a soft loan or plant now pay later scheme.
He added the coconut planting program will be coupled with the introduction of secondary crops like abaca, cacao, coffee and black pepper.
“Thousands of jobs are projected to be generated by this program which would result in greater economic activities in the countryside,” Pinol said.