The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is requesting an additional budget of P11 billion for next year in order to enhance both local production and the income of coconut farmers nationwide.
During a briefing held on Monday, PCA Administrator Bernie Cruz stated that the extra funds would be allocated to the establishment of seed gardens or seed farms in coconut-producing areas. However, the Department of Budget and Management has only designated a budget ceiling of slightly over P1 billion for the agency.
“We are seeking more funds to establish a seed garden or seed farm in every coconut-producing area so that logistical challenges will no longer hinder us. The seed gardens, to be set up in every province, will provide the necessary seeds,” Cruz explained.
The PCA has noted that government agencies tasked with implementing the P75-billion coco levy fund are facing difficulties in securing additional budget for initiatives such as employment and industry research.
Cruz clarified that the use of the coco levy fund does not cover the administrative costs associated with carrying out the plan to revitalize the coconut industry.
“All government agencies involved in the coconut industry road map are encountering difficulties because they also have to rely on their General Appropriations Act funds for their respective projects,” he added.
Under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Act, the PCA receives 15 percent, or P5 billion, annually from the coco levy fund for various activities aimed at developing the coconut value chain.
“However, if we use our own budget for the coconut industry road map, we will undergo scrutiny from the COA (Commission on Audit),” Cruz stated. “We are seeking additional funds because it is evident that we need to replace our coconut trees with better varieties.”
The PCA currently sources coconut seeds from Zamboanga and Bicol. However, the agency has specified that seeds from Bicol can only be used within the province due to an ongoing disease affecting the coconut industry there.
Once the old coconut trees are replaced, the PCA aims to double the average yield of a coconut tree to 80 to 100 nuts per year, compared to the current average of 44 nuts per year.
In 2022, the Philippines produced 14.93 million metric tons (MT) of coconut, a 1.45 percent increase from the 14.71 million MT produced the previous year, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Cruz also mentioned that the increased budget would double the income of local farmers, even if the farm-gate price, or the price at which farmers sell to traders, remains the same. The farm-gate price of copra, a coconut crop, averaged P22.88 per kilogram as of June 9, compared to P37.54 per kilogram during the same period last year, based on PCA data.
According to PCA Deputy Administrator Roel Rosales, the decline in the price of copra is being experienced throughout the country, with prices being lower the farther the processing center or oil mill is from the source.
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