Farmers from Mindanao and Leyte now export fresh young coconut or buko to China with an initial shipment worth $36.5 million.
A Davao-based company, Eng Seng Food Products, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture in Region 11 (DA-Davao) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), this week started shipping 48 tons or 36,000 pieces of aromatic coconuts to Guangzhou and Xiamen, China.
The shipment is the manifestation of an agreement between the two countries signed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China in April under the 2nd Belt and Road Forum.
Under the contract, Eng Seng will provide one-year supply or 64.5M metric tons (MT) of young coconuts to the Chinese market.
“The shipment was made possible after the signing of a contract with a China-based company, the China Artex Corp. Fujian Co.,” Eng Seng food products president John Tan said in a statement.
“We wanted to target 60 containers weekly,” Tan added. However, with the limitation in supply, the first shipment was only 15 containers.
According to him, the country’s aromatic coconuts has a huge following in China due to its distinct taste and aroma.
Tan said China is also willing to offer long-term marketing agreements with interested local coconut farmers. Local officials also said the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will help provide farmers with coconut seedlings and technical assistance.
For his part, DA-Davao Regional Director Ricardo Oñate Jr. said farmers should take advantage of China’s annual demand of about 1,500 MT of aromatic coconut and vowed to help link coconut farmers with other firms to meet the demand.
Further, he also encouraged farmers to plant aromatic coconut in “ancestral domain” areas to maximize its potential for agricultural development.
In a separate statement, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the shipment to China is soon followed by a similar shipment to San Jose, California.