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Loren urges full dev’t of coco industry

January 14, 2010

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA, CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD, URGED LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUS) IN LAGUNA TO CONTINUE IN ITS EFFORTS TO PROMOTE AND DEVELOP THE COCONUT INDUSTRY WHICH IS THE MAJOR ECONOMIC MOVER IN THE REGION.
Loren aired the call as the City of San Pablo celebrates a weeklong festival called The Coco Festival. The week-long festivity is held to promote the city’s main produce – the coconut.
“I urge the LGU to continue its eco-tourism program like the Coco Festival which not only promotes the City of San Pablo but also highlights the coconut industry. The coconut industry remains a leader in the country’s predominantly agricultural economy,” Loren said.
“Every year, there are new and exciting products that can be derived from coconut. Local businesses do not have to focus on buko pie shops because they can also engage in other coconut products which are also profitable like virgin coconut oil (VCO). I would like to see the LGU and even the local businessmen explore the investment options that can be offered by coconuts,” Loren said.
“I am encouraging Mayor Vicente B. Amante to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and seek the department’s help so that farmers in the region could avail of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) in further developing the coconut industry,” the lady senator said.
Loren, who also chairs the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM), noted that the coconut has maintained its position as the top agricultural crop exported in various forms, either as food or non-food classified as traditional or non-traditional, to 130 countries. The local coconut industry has an annual average exports income of $800 million.
The Philippine Coconut Authority reported that in 1979, 1995 and 2007, the country’s coconut exports reached the $1 billion level. The local coconut industry employs 23 million Filipinos, 3.4 million of whom are farmers. The country nurtures 324 million coconut trees planted on 3.1 million hectares of land.
The PCA also reported that there are various value-adding products that have been introduced such as coco sugar, coconut honey, coco vodka, coco lip balm, VCO blended essences, perfumes, skin moisturizer, VCO shampoo and many others.
“I urge extension workers in the region to help small coconut farmers access credit and increase their income by organizing or conducting seminars and workshops on processing of various products derived from coconut as well as on how to prevent and control pest and diseases affecting coconut plantations,” Loren said.
The PCA likewise announced that productivity of 10 million more coconut trees has been enhanced through a process called Salt Fertilization.
Loren reported that the PCA is spearheading a campaign among farmers to fertilize their coconut farms with two kilos of salt per tree per year for three years to increase thickness of coconut meat and also increase the number of nuts harvested. The procedure also makes coconut trees resistant to drought, pest and diseases.