The DA-Philippine Coconut Authority in Western Visayas is holding consultations with stakeholders to come up with the regional coconut development plan to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte, following the enactment of Republic Act 11524, or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.
Since last year, the agency has been conducting meetings with farmers’ groups to collect their comments and suggestions in formulating/crafting the five-year industry development plan that includes the submitted projects by the stakeholders and the local government units for endorsement of the Regional Development Council.
“We have to finish this coconut farmers and industry plan within 120 days from the signing of the law, that is due on June this year to be submitted for the President’s approval,” DA-PCA regional manager Jeffrey Delos Reyes said in a press release from the Department of Agriculture 6 yesterday.
As part of the provision of the law, the agency is in the process of validating 231,000 registered coconut farmers in the region and enlisting new ones to the National Coconut Farmer Registry System for them to avail of the programs. RA 11524 directs the PCA to complete the coconut farmers’ registry in 90 days from its effectivity.
“We are given the deadline to complete the list by June, so we are conducting the validation of this farmers’ registry and enrollment of those who have not yet registered because all development interventions and opportunities under this law can only be accessed by those registered in NCFRS,” Delos Reyes added.
The law mandates the Bureau of Treasury to release a start-up budget of P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year, P10 billion in the second year, P15 billion in the third year, another P15 billion in the fourth year, and P25 billion during the fifth year.
Implementing agencies will get a part of the annual allocation to be appropriated on developing hybrid coconut seed farms and nurseries, trainings, research, marketing promotions, crop insurance, farm improvements, shared facilities for processing, credit programs, infrastructure development, empowerment of coconut farmer’s organizations, and scholarship and medical programs for coconut farmers and their families, the press release said.
Based on RA 11524, the development plan shall include community-based enterprises, such as integrated processing of products and downstream products to boost the income of coconut farmers, and scholarships and healthcare programs that benefit coconut farmers, farmworkers, and their families.
The program shall also include innovative research projects and their utilization for coconut processing, production, and distribution to improve the local coconut industry.
Delos Reyes said these development proposals include the establishment of processing facilities in Ibajay, Aklan, Pandan in Antique, and the second district and Hinobaan in Negros Occidental, the press release said.
“We have to situate all of the development interventions, particularly processing centers in areas that are proximate to the production hubs. All these will be presented to the stakeholders so that we will be guided in soliciting suggestions and opinions from the group,” he added.*