CEBU CITY – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) embarked on a replanting project of coconuts and be paid for it as its assistance to coconut farmers whose livelihood income from the tree had gone down the drain due to COVID-19 pandemic.
PCA- Bohol manager Engr. Emiliano Romero said that the agency’s Coconut Planting and Replanting Program allows people who germinate coconuts into seedlings and plant them to earn an income incentive from the government.
Romero said that PCA pays a farmer P40 for every coconut seedling it can germinate and another P45 for every seeding it can transplant to a permanent coconut farm. “A total of P85 income per tree per farmer,” he said.
The quarantine situations in Central Visayas has inspired people to plant various kinds of herbs, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals and cacti to earn from them. The PCA here thought that why not germinate and plant coconut seedlings for a fee?
Romero said that coconut farmers in the region sourced out their coconut seedlings from the PCA nursery in Calanggaman Ubay in Bohol and because of COVID-19 farmers have not been able to draw their seedling allocations.
“Bohol can store a million seedlings a year which are the source of planting for coconut farmers. It is not good to store that much number of seedlings which could not be replanted,” Romero added.
He noted that people are not keen on coconut farming due to the length of time to get them into fruiting, but there are dwarf coconuts now that mature after three years. These coconuts whose tender fruits can by harvested from the ground.
These are the kinds of coconuts—the hybrids and dwarf varieties that PCA encourages to plant and replant in existing coconut farms. “Now we are happy we can easily offer young coconuts to our farm guests,” Romero said.
Romero went on that with healthy coconuts, one tree can produce one bunch of seven fruits per month, sometimes a tree bearing 14-16 bunches a year. No other fruit tree bears much fruit monthly than coconuts, he noted.
The PCA’s Plating and Replanting program also offers farmer who have half a hectare of farms to plant, some 72 free seedlings. With hybrid seedlings now sold at P225 and dwarf coconut seedlings at P85, this is a perfect chance for coconut farmers to get free seedlings for their farms, Romero added.
For farmers or those interested to plant but do not have bigger lots, they can group together and if their aggregate areas to plant reaches half a hectare, the PCA can grant them the free 72 seedlings and the PCA can give more according to the area needing seedlings to plant, Romero bared.
He added that the PCA has also incentivized banana plants when intercropped with coconuts. For a half hectare of coconut plantation intercropped with bananas, PCA pays P25 per banana planted under coconut trees.
The PCA also encouraged coconut farmers to diversify and explore other options for value-added products from the coconut which are now being studied and assisted by the government.
Romero said that copra is just a small part of the value of a coconut, noting that even the husk now is being used to produce coco peat, a kind of fertilizer additive that keeps water from draining or evaporating fast. Another is the coco coir which is used to make geo-fibers used in soil stabilization and erosion control.
He bared that Bohol has already some 10 coconut decorticating machines, one that can strip the husk of the coir and the fiber. There is also virgin coconut oil, vegetable cooking oil from coconut, and coconut sugar with technologies that are now being promoted to interested farmer groups.
“One can also sell the young fruits at a high price of P25-35 per nut and processed coconut can even command much more,” Romero said.