PH seeks outside help as farmers feel crunch from low copra prices
Local copra prices have yet to recover from the ongoing global supply glut despite the various interventions from the government to assist the coconut industry.
The development comes just after President Duterte decided to veto the coconut levy bill for supposedly being prone to corruption.
Based on data from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the average farm-gate price for copra as of the first week of February was at P25.90 a kilogram, down 18 percent from its prices a year ago at P31.65 a kilo.
Prices of crude coconut oil has also declined by more than 60 percent to $730 a ton from a high of $1,850 a ton last year.
The lowest farm-gate price for copra was recorded in Western Visayas at P13.90 a kilo while the highest at P19.23 a kilo was reported in Eastern Visayas.
The gap between the highest recorded farm-gate prices this year and last year was at 44 percent.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and PCA Administrator Romulo dela Rosa have been in talks with representatives from various countries that are interested in exploring the Philippine coconut market.
Aside from the proposal to impose a tariff on palm oil and other palm oil products coming into the country, both the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the PCA have been pushing to increase the use of coconut oil in domestic fuel to bolster demand.
The DA has also allocated P200 million of its funds to provide credit to coconut farmers, while the PCA is looking to establish an irradiation facility in Davao this year to pump up the country’s coconut exports.
Piñol also recently sealed an agreement with the Russian government that would allow the Philippines to import coconuts to the latter.
The country’s coconut industry, which employs around 3 million farmers, heavily relies in the sale of copra.
Last week, President Duterte vetoed the bill reconstituting the PCA, saying among others, that it gave Congress sole oversight functions. He said the funds would be susceptible to corruption, such as in the case of pork barrel funds.
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