BBM orders fast-tracking of coconut programs
The Manila Times
THE Department of Agriculture through the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will fast-track the programs for coconut farmers as ordered by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., which will be pivotal in lifting millions of coconut farmers out of poverty. “We are directed to fast-track the implementation of all the programs that will benefit the coconut farmers whether this will be in partnership with different agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry,” said DA Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista in recent briefing in Malacanang. “We have programs as far as value-adding [is concerned]. We are also looking at shared facilities for our coconut farmers,” she said, adding that credit will also be made available to coconut farmers. As of the latest, the PCA has already identified 2.9 million out of the 3.1 million coconut farmers listed in the National Coconut Farmers Registry System (NCFRS) as qualified beneficiaries of programs under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP). The PCA Regional Offices are leading the continuous cross-validation and registration of coconut farmers in the country as the updated registry will ensure that all registered farmers will be supported through the CFIDP. The CFIDP sets the directions and policies for the modernization and industrialization of the Philippine coconut industry within 50 years to increase the productivity and incomes of millions of marginal coconut farmers and their families. The CFIDP was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order No. 172 on June 2, 2022. It will be funded by P75 billion over a period of five years as mandated by Republic Act (RA) 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act. Launching and implementation In line with the 36th National Coconut Week celebration this year, the CFIDP was launched in all regions on August 11–25, 2022 to cascade the programs in the field, register more eligible farmers, and fasttrack program implementation. PCA Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr., said the CFIDP roll out aims to fasttrack the implementation of the CFIDP. “Ayon sa direktiba ng ating Pangulo, Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. na tumatayong Kalihim ng Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka at Chairman ng PCA board, papabilisin natin ang paglulunsad ng mga programa at pasilidad ayon sa batas,” he added. To accelerate the implementation of CFIDP through its local partners, Madrigal said that the PCA and 15 other implementing bureaus and agencies are undertaking the roll out in the different coconut-growing regions to provide information on the CFIDP programs and register more eligible farmers to the farmers’ registry. “Based on the regional allocations specified in the Plan, we undertake information campaign to increase the awareness of our coconut farmers on how they can avail and benefit from the programs under the CFIDP,” Madrigal said. Furthermore, Madrigal said that the CFIDP seeks to strengthen cooperation and engagement among regional stakeholders, while addressing the challenges encountered by the farmers and partner agencies. To ensure the judicious spending of the P75 billion for the CFIDP, a multi-agency Trust Fund Management Committee (TFMC) is mandated under the law to oversee the management and use of the said funds. Earlier, the TFMC was looking at training programs on new technologies, crop insurance and credit access for coconut farmers. For the entire industry, the committee is ready to fund the development of hybrid coconut seed farms, research and infrastructure. At present, the Philippines is the second largest producer of coconuts globally and the top exporter of coconut oil. With the CFIDP and President Marcos ordering its fast-tracking, the Philippines has a bigger chance of regaining its position as the world’s top producer of coconuts.