The government has jumpstarted the modernization and industrialization of the country’s coconut sector to boost export earnings with more value-added products.
“This is a huge gamechanger, where all our efforts making use of the billion-peso coconut levy fund will lift our small coconut farmers and their families from abject poverty,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said over the weekend.
He chairs the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) board, where he is assisted by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez as vice chair.
According to Dominguez, the P75 billion coconut levy fund will be directly disbursed to help the 2.5 million small coconut farmers and their families to improve their livelihood.
“We will ensure that the multi-billion-peso coconut trust fund will be used for programs and projects meant to transform the coconut industry into a major contributor to our country’s strong and sustainable recovery from the adverse economic impact of the pandemic,” he said.
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, P15 billion in the fourth and P25 billion in the fifth year.
The law also mandates 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, among others.
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 due to lower yields following the reduction of harvest area.