President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. tasked the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to come up with a general plan for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry as the agency carries out a massive coconut planting and replanting program.
The President met with the PCA officials at the Malacañan Palace to discuss its proposed Coconut Planting and Replanting Project, aimed at reinvigorating the coconut industry by planting 100 million trees from 2023 to 2028.
“There’s a big opportunity so let’s have a look at that so that we can put — we can show even just for ourselves. Kailangan natin mayroon tayong plano,” Marcos told PCA officials.
“Hindi puwedeng basta’t ito gagawa… Kailangan maliwanag ‘yung plano. Tiyakin natin na talagang ginamit natin sa tama,” he said.
Marcos also underscored the importance of inputs from coconut industry leaders in coming up with a general plan for the sector and wanted the government to implement such initiative beyond his term as president.
“Why will we stop at 2028 because I’m finished? Huwag nating isipin ‘yun. What is the ideal? How many years do we need to take to rehabilitate the coconut industry?” he asked.
“Don’t bother with political terms. Kung walang politika, walang change of administration, nakakasiguro kayo tuloy-tuloy, gaano kahaba para malagyan natin ng lahat ng mga bagong puno?”
For the coconut planting and replanting project to gain traction, the PCA is recommending for the issuance of a Memorandum Circular (MC) that will direct all concerned national government agencies and instrumentalities and urge local government units (LGUs) to undertake efforts in support of the project.
Under the proposed planting and replanting program, the PCA targets to plant 20 to 25 million trees annually from 2023 to 2028, or 100 million trees.
And through the proposed MC, the PCA wants concerned national government agencies to support the coconut planting and replanting.
Under a Memorandum of Agreement between the PCA and coconut-producing provinces and municipalities, the LGUs will be encouraged to implement coconut planting and replanting, seed farm development, and coconut fertilization, among other activities.
The PCA has launched a massive coconut planting program to address the impact of senilities and the typhoon destruction to the sector, noting that the last time that the Philippines implemented massive coconut planting program was in the ‘70s or ‘80s.
Due to budgetary constraints, the agency has only managed to plant or replant about 1 to 3 million coconut trees, which is far from the estimated 34 million trees that it needs to replant.
The PCA said in order to plant 100 million trees in the next five years, a whole-of-nation approach is needed.
The Philippines has a total area of 3.60 million hectares planted with coconut trees, or about 27 percent of total agricultural land. It has 340.60 million coconut-bearing trees capable of producing 14 to 15 billion nuts annually.
From 15.86 million metric tons (MMT) of coconut in 2012, coconut production in the country fell to 13.83 MMT in 2016 before rising to 14.73 MMT in 2018, and 14.93 MMT in 2022.
Despite these developments, the country remains the biggest exporter of coconut products, recording a total export value of coconut products amounting to US$3.22 billion in 2022.
Coconut exports contributed an average of 35 percent to the country’s total agricultural export earnings from 2013 to 2022.
The PCA said among the challenges confronting the sector are increasing tree senility, bearing tree losses due to pests and diseases, natural disasters, and climate change impact.
Last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded 340.6 million bearing trees, a 6.2 million decline from the 346.8 million bearing trees a year before. | PND
(Photo courtesy of PCA-10)