22 November 2013
Sen. Pia: Rebuild the coconut industry
Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said the damage caused by super typhoon Yolanda in rich coconut-producing areas in the Visayas should prompt the government to include the revival of the coconut industry as a priority in overall rehabilitation efforts.
“Considering the extent of the damage to the local coconut sector, our production and exports could suffer a huge decline. This could prevent us from holding on to our share in the global market which, incidentally, has seen a substantial surge in demand for coconut-based products,” said Cayetano.
She noted that the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has projected world consumption of coconut products to increase by more than 10 percent annually, based on growing demand for coconut water and a range of coco-sourced products including food, oils, cosmetics, fibers and fuel.
On the other hand, she said initial reports from the Philippine Coconut Authority indicate that some three million coconut trees were damaged in varying degrees, from slight to severe, in the provinces of Quezon in Region IV−A, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental in Region VI, Cebu in Region VII and Eastern Samar and Leyte in Region VIII.
“There should be massive replanting in provinces where nearly all coconut trees were damaged, felled and uprooted. The displaced farmers themselves could be mobilized under a money-for-work system to plant and care for coconut seedlings provided by the government.”
“We should study the possibility of tapping the coco levy funds for this purpose and initiate partnerships with the private sector and academic institutions for research and development,” she added.
“Even before Yolanda, experts have already raised the concern that many of our coconut trees are already old and have lost much of their productivity, and thus need to be replaced immediately.”
“The conditions all point to the need to rebuild the local coconut sector, literally, from the ground up, and to help our farmers by involving them in the government’s rehabilitation plan. We should aim to secure our status as one of the world’s top coconut exporters and ensure that our people benefit from it.” #
The aftermath: Photo of what’s left in the municipality of Marabut in Eastern Samar reflects the extent of damage caused by super typhoon Yolanda to several provinces in the Visayas.