Here's how Salceda would tweak PH coconut development plan

Published June 16, 2022, 3:23 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

If House Committee on Ways and Means chairman and Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda would have his way, he would revise the government’s Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan in order to cover two key areas.


“There are two areas that are not very well-articulated in the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, which is the guiding blueprint for the use of the Coco Levy Trust Fund,” Salceda said in a statement Thursday, June 16.

“One is marginal or small-scale farmers, who are the poorest of the poor, both nationwide and as a subsector of the coconut industry. The second area of concern is crop diversification and inter-cropping, which is the best way to make coconut farmers more profitable and productive, peso-per-peso,” he said.

As such, the Bicol solon says he hopes that the incoming Marcos administration will be open to “tweaking” the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, which was approved by President Duterte via Executive Order (EO) No. 172, s. 2022.

The EO was signed last June 8.

Albay, which Salceda represents, has 277,200 coconut farms, making the coconut sector one of the largest sources of employment in the province.

Salceda said he recently held consultations with “key agriculturists, including national scientists, agricultural economists, agri-engineers, and others” during the University of the Philippines (UP)-Los Baños convocation where he was keynote speaker.

“We have come to the conclusion that the best way to lift coconut farmers out of poverty is to diversify their cropping, so that they are not so vulnerable to the price cyclicalities of the sector,” Salceda said.

“Estimates suggest that 50 percent of coconut farmers fall below the poverty line. More than double the national average. So, to lift the coconut industry includes lifting the coconut farmers out of poverty,” he noted.

“We are the largest or the second largest exporter of coconut products in the world, at around P15 billion annually. And we can do better with value-added. But you can’t do value-add if farmers are not bankable, and to be bankable, they have to be, at the very least, non-poor. So, farmer income is key to developing the coconut sector,” Salceda explained.

“We also have to help small farmholders consolidate, either through farm consolidation, or through cooperativism. That means we may need some farm consultants or managers sent to coconut-producing areas,” he further said.

“Hopefully, we can dialogue with the new Secretary of Agriculture, whoever that person will be, very soon on this,” Salceda added.