by Manny Piñol

The country’s coconut farmers can now heave a sigh of relief.

Last night, in his second meeting with the cabinet secretaries-designate, President-elect Rody 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.

“This is an emotional issue for the coconut farmers, including my late mother. The coconut levy funds should be given to the farmers,”

President Duterte told the members of his incoming cabinet.

The President made the directive after I requested him to make a policy statement on the coconut levy funds because I have been receiving a lot of questions on the issue.

“I am directing Atty. Panelo to look into this matter and make sure that the coconut levy funds are released to the farmers,” he said.

During the report I made, I also informed President Duterte that I have talked to officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for a 6-year coconut planting program to cover 600,000 hectares.

I was assured by PCA officials that the agency and its stakeholders are capable of producing planting materials to cover the 600,000-hectares of new coconut areas in the country.

In the project proposal which I personally drafted called the COPRA or Coconut Productivity and Rehabilitation Agenda, the massive replanting of coconut in the country is aimed at regaining the Philippines’ status as the No. 1 coconut producer in the world.

To enable farmers to have access to the program, the coconut seedlings, including fertilisers and irrigation equipment will be granted on a soft loan or plant now pay later scheme.

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.

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.


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