The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said there is a need to train Palawan’s estimated 40,000 coconut farmers and growers on the proper planting of the palm tree to increase the production and their incomes.
PCA regional manager Dennis Andres in a stakeholder’s forum on Thursday said if they know the proper planting of the coconut tree, they can meet the demand for more fruits and increase their incomes.
“Nakita talaga natin ang potential coconut industry ng probinsya dahil sa taas ng turismo at open ang mga investors. Kailangan [lang] ng proper knowledge para sa mga susunod na mga araw ay hindi na problema ang niyog sa atin, na kaya na niyang i-sustain ang demand and at the same time mataas ang income ng farmers dahil sa taas din ng produksyon,” he said.
MIMAROPA is one of the highest coconut producers in the country, but the industry is not as dynamic compared to other regions due to lack of proper knowledge in the planting.
Farmers and growers cannot avoid low profit, Andres said, as most of them are selling their harvests independently.
He suggested for them to group together and form cooperatives or organizations to penetrate the market that requires more harvests in production.
Another reason why farmers experience little harvest and low income is the agriculture practice of producing and growing a single crop or monoculture.
“Yon ang problema dito na nakita ko. Coconut lang ang nakatanim kaya hindi fully utilized ang lupa. Kami gusto namin i-promote itong inter-cropping kung saan tataniman ang ilalim ng niyog ng mga long-term crops,” he said.
Andres said two such crops for this are banana and coffee, which are long-term plants.
To date, he said out of 100 cooperatives, only 20 percent are active.
“The best way is to organize them kasi kahit naman mag-produce sila ng mag-produce, ang sasabihin nila walang market. It is because ang market ay nangangailangan ng volumes. Ngayon kung individual pa rin sila mag-ma-market ng mga nuts nila, hindi nila ito ma-pe-penetrate,” Andres said.
Alcasion Deradoc, 72, who has been producing dried coconut kernel (copra) for 30 years in Barangay Manalo, said he only earns P15 thousand annually out of his three-hectare coco farm.
“Nasa P15 thousand din ang kita sa copra [kada taon]. Kinukuha sa amin ng P25 per kilo tapos binebenta nila dito sa bayan ng P30. Ganoon lang palagi kasi ‘yong presyo rin kasi ay pabago-bago,” he said.
The amount is not even enough to take care of his family’s needs. He wants to boost his harvests but admits he lacks the skills on how to do it.
“Hindi rin naman kasi [namin] talaga natutukan ng husto ang niyog kaso hindi napapataas ang kaalaman namin kaya ganoon din kaliit ang kita. Sa tagal ko na sa pagko-kopra, swerte na siguro kung kukunin sa amin ng P30 hanggang P38 kada kilo,” Deradoc said.
At present, the PCA is conducting the farmer’s registry that will collect all their data as future beneficiaries of P70 billion in coconut levy funds.
“Hindi lang magalaw ang budget na ‘yan kasi kailangan ng batas na maipasa para ma-implement. Although proposal palang ‘yan kasi nga kailangan muna ma-approve ay nag-re-register na tayo ng mga farmers. Isa sa requirement ng coco levy ang ma-identify kung sinu-sino ba itong mga farmers na ‘to,” he said.
Almost 12,000 Palawan farmers out of 40,000 have already registered.
Andres added that Cardinal Agri in Brooke’s Point and Lion Heart Agri in Rizal in southern Palawan can help develop the coconut industry because of their demand for whole nuts.
“Napakataas ng demand, like sa dalawang investors na ito. Sa Cardinal bibilihin nila ang whole nut sa mataas na halaga at walang gagastusin ang farmer dahil Cardinal din ang ha-harvest. Ang kailangan lang nila ay linisin ang farm nila. So there is a need talaga to produce more coconuts,” he said.
Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Quezon, Sofronio Española, Aborlan and Puerto Princesa are among the biggest producer of coconut in the province.