Villar: Release of coco levy funds will spur dev't of PH coconut industry

Published June 12, 2022, 1:50 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Cynthia Villar on Sunday, June 12 said she is optimistic that the release of the P75-billion coco levy funds would help spur the development of the Philippine coconut industry and help the 3.5 million farmers that stand to benefit from President Duterte’s signing of Executive Order 172 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).

“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, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

“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,” she further said.

The CFIDP was mandated to be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under RA 11524, or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CFITF) Act.

Villar authored RA 11524, which was signed into law on February 26, 2021 and became effective on March 13, 2021. The law primarily aims to boost the competitiveness of coconut farmers in the country.

According to Villar, the Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of coconuts next to Indonesia, with the Davao Region still the top coconut-producer, contributing 14.4 percent to the country’s total production.

Zamboanga Peninsula followed with 13.6 percent and then Northern Mindanao with 12.9 percent. By island group, Luzon produces 20 percent, Visayas 34 percent, and Mindanao 46 percent of the Philippine’s 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 is cash.

Villar said the issuance of the EO would help alleviate the lives of the country’s coconut farmers from the 68 coconut-producing provinces.

She said the coconut industry, Villar emphasized, has a very high potential for growth through productivity enhancement, diversification, and industry value-addition, and if managed well, can be instrumental in rural industrialization and job creation.

However, she said there are still problems confronting the coconut industry and “among them are the unorganized supply chain, vulnerability of coconut to world price fluctuations, low farm productivity, which roots from infestations of cocolisap, the aging of current crop of coconut trees and poor nutrition, inadequate infrastructure support and poor farm to market roads.”

In signing the EO on June 2, Villar said the President acknowledged the significance of having a plan for the development of the coconut industry.