The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) plans to impose a moratorium on cutting of coconut trees saying it suspects abuse in the use of cutting permits.
Avelino Andal, PCA administrator said that while about 20 percent of the country’s 340 million coconut trees is senile and may be cut, there are serious misapprehension about the cutting.
“We are in the process of studying our options as to how to minimize the cutting of (coconut) trees that is going on and in a very short period of time, the authority will come up with a decision whether to issue a moratorium,” Andal said.
“Our feeling also is that the cutting in relation to the planting of seeds does not go hand in hand. There is more cutting going on than the seedlings being planted so there is a disparity that we want to address,” Andal added.
Earlier, the PCA also appealed that a law be passed to finally release the coco levy fund.He hopes that even the fund’s interest worth P4 billion may be released before yearend.
Andal said the P4-billion interest out of the P70-billion coco levy fund would help jumpstart value-added projects for coconut farmers especially those whose farms were affected by the disease “cocolisap”.
He added the fund is crucial especially since PCA’s approved budget for next year is only P1.4 billion.
“We are looking at projects to add value on our coconut products so that we will not rely solely on exporting copra and coconut oil. We can derive a lot of coco sugar from coconut as there is high demand and high return on investment to it. I am thinking seriously of creating production zones and areas for buko juice which is right now dominated by Thailand,” Andal said.
He said PCA is also keen on supplementing the income of coconut farmers through other fruit trees, specifically cacao, as hybrid coconut trees take three years to bear fruits and five years for traditional coconut trees.
PCA said at present, 3.5 million hectares of land are planted with coconut trees with average export revenues of $900 million in the last five years.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that as of end last year, the country produced 14.74 million metric tons of coconut, just slightly above 2014’s 14.70 million MT.(Malaya)