The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is mulling to use part of the P100-billion coconut levy trust fund to bankroll the vaccination drive for farmers, the so-called “backliners” of the economy.
In a press conference on Tuesday, PCA administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. said the agency will look for the possible inclusion of coconut farmers’ vaccination drive in its development plan for the sector.
“We have a provision for health and medical assistance (in our development plan). But we will try to outline this so that we can possibly utilize the fund for the vaccination program,” Madrigal said.
Relatedly, Department of Agriculture assistant secretary Noel O. Reyes said the agency will propose to prioritize farmers’ vaccination, noting that protecting the farmers would also help ensure food security.
Under the recently signed Republic Act 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, the Bureau of the Treasury was directed to transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year.
It will be followed by a transfer of another P10 billion in the second year, P15 billion in the third year, P15 billion in the fourth year, and P25 billion in the fifth year.
The law also mandated that an initial P5 billion should be set aside for the implementation of programs like the development of hybrid coconut seed farms, crop insurance, training, and credit access.
The law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last week, places coconut levy assets in a trust that will modernize the coconut industry and help improve the lives of farmers.
The Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer and number one exporter of coconut products. However, the sector faced setbacks because of lower yields due to reduced harvest area.