Sen. Cynthia A. Villar said President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the executive order (EO) approving the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) is a “welcome development” as it would result in the release of a P75-billion trust fund from coco levy assets to bankroll the development of the coconut industry, benefitting 3.5 million farmers.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CFITF) Act, authored by Villar, was signed into law on February 26, 2021 and became effective on March 13, 2021.
“This marked the fulfillment of President Duterte’s promise to return the coco levy funds to their true and rightful owners – the coconut farmers,” said Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee.
Under EO 172, President Duterte approved the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP), which was mandated to be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under RA 11524, aimed at boosting the competitiveness of coconut farmers in the country.
Villar said the Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer of coconuts next to Indonesia. Davao Region is still the top coconut-producer which contributed 14.4 percent to the country’s total production. Zamboanga Peninsula followed with 13.6 percent and then Northern Mindanao with 12.9 percent. By island group, Luzon produces 20 percent, Visayas 34 percent, and Mindanao 46 percent of our coconut output.
As of December 31, 2020, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) estimated the total coco levy cash assets at P113.88 billion, of which P76.4 billion is cash.
“We thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) for this legacy that he will leave to the Philippines’ coconut industry and the Filipino farmers and farm workers,” Villlar said.
Under EO 172, Duterte approved the CFIDP,which was mandated to be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) under RA 1152.
Villar said it aims to boost the competitiveness of coconut farmers in the country. She noted that the issuance of this EO would help alleviate the lives of the country’s coconut farmers from the 68 coconut-producing provinces.
In signing the EO on June 2, the President acknowledged the significance of having a plan for the development of the coconut industry.
“There is a need to approve the CFIDP to increase overall productivity and income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and achieve the twin objectives of rehabilitating and modernizing the coconut industry to attain social equity,” read the EO.
The coconut industry, Villar emphasized, has a very high potential for growth through productivity enhancement, diversification, and industry value-addition. If managed well, she said, it can be instrumental in rural industrialization and job creation.
However, she said there are problems confronting the coconut industry and related that “among them are the unorganized supply chain, vulnerability of coconut to world price fluctuations, low farm productivity, which roots from infestations of cocolisap, the aging of current crop of coconut trees and poor nutrition, inadequate infrastructure support and poor farm-to-market roads.
EO 172 also provides that the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), along with other concerned government agencies, will implement the CFIDP.