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Philippines expects exports of buko to US soon

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Philippines expects exports of buko to US soon
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the US market would soon be open for buko from the Philippines as relayed by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney during their meeting Wednesday.

MANILA, Philippines — In a potential boost to the country’s coconut industry, green coconut or buko and other fibers are likely to be exported soon to the US.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the US market would soon be open for buko from the Philippines as relayed by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney during their meeting Wednesday.

“Undersecretary McKinney said that there are just a few more quarantine protocols which need to be completed before Filipino coconut farmers could start shipping green coconuts or buko to the US,” Piñol said.

Piñol said green coconuts from the Philippines could be sold in Filipino and Asian grocery stores across America starting 2019.

He said buko is a highvalue product which has carved a niche in the health-conscious US market.

“The Philippine coconut industry, however, failed to catch up with the demand of the market and focused mainly on the production of copra which is processed to produce oil,” Piñol said.

He said supply in the market is currently monopolized by Thailand because of their aggressive marketing efforts and market-oriented agriculture.

Thailand has also been able to export other high value products to the US such as coconut water, coconut syrup, among others.

Piñol said the Philippines is the second biggest producer of coconuts with a total of 3.5 million hectares planted and a production of 15 million metric tons, while Thailand is currently ninth – producing only one million metric tons from only 216,000 hectares.

In the same meeting, the USDA official also presented a prototype of housing block materials made out of coconut fibers and dirty plastic,  Piñol said.

This serves as a potential for the Philippine coconut industry to supply a product, other than copra, the main product produced by Filipino farmers.

“This will be a major shift for the Filipino coconut farmers which is aimed at weaning them from their reliance on copra production alone for their income and introducing other high value products from which they could generate greater income,” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief said the Philippine Coconut Authority earlier developed hollow blocks made out of coconut fiber and is currently working on the development of other roofing materials.

He added that the country’s coconut industry is also working on the development of other products such as coconut sugar, coconut syrup, coconut milk, dessicated coconut, coconut chips, virgin coconut oil and coco coir production for the growing greenhouse farming industry in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

COCONUT INDUSTRY

EMMANUEL PIñOL

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